SOUND AND MEANING
IN DYLAN THOMAS'S POETRY
THELMA LOUISE BAUGHAN MURDY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTUL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
THELMA. LOUISE BAUGH/IN MJRDY
I wish to express my appreciation to the members of the
supervisory committee, v^o read the manuscript and made valuable
suggestions: Dr. Stephen F. Fogle, Dr. John T. Fain, Dr. T. Walter
Herbert, and Dr. John R. Spencer. I am deeply indebted to Dr.
Ants Oras for the combination of kindness and criticism which make
for an outstanding research director.
}ty other sources of assistance and encouragement were numer-
ous and varied. I am grateful indeed to the Southern Fellowships
Fund, for without its support I could not have undertaken the
research project. Professor John Malcolm Brinnin, Professor Gene
Baro, Professor Daniel G. Hoffman, Mr. Lloyd Frankenberg, Dr. Arthur
L. Klein, Professor W. T. Weathers, Professor Clifton C. Hill, and
Mr. James E. Hansen, among others, contributed important information
to the study. The staff of the University of Florida Library—
particularly those connected with the Interlibrary Loan Department —
helped make possible the annotated bibliography.
I am above all appreciative of lay husband's understanding,
encouragement — and patience.
TO MAMA. AND DADEC
TABLE OF COLITENTS
LIST OF APPENDICES vi
CHAPTER I 17
CHAPTER II _ 49
CHAPTER III 100
A THOMAS DISCOGRAPHI 170
Record Readings by Dylan Thomas 170
Recordings of Thomas's Work read by Others 173
Primary Sources: Works by Dylan Thomas 177
Books and Monographs 178
Articles, Reviews, and Memoirs 185
Special Issues and Groups of Articles
on Dylan Thomas 203
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 206
LIST OF APPENDICES
I Examination of the Problem of Pitch Analysis 132
II Graphs of Striking Power, Tone, and Pitch, in
"Death shall have no dominion,"
"In my Craft or Sullen Art," and
"Do not go gentle into that good night" 138
III Alphabetized Index of Dylan Thomas's
Collected Poems 1934-1952 155
IV Thomas's Reading and Recording Itinerary in America . . 159
Over the years, criticism of Dylan Thomas' s poetry has generally
emphasized either its sound or its meaning. On the one hand, critics
■who disparage TlLomas contend that soiind dominates his poetry almost to
the exclusion of any precise meaning. John Wain, for example, comments
that a set of meanings can be extracted from Thomas' s poems but that it
is doubtful whether or not Thomas really cared much about any precise
meaning as long as the sound of the poem satisfied him. Even more
vitriolic in his condemnation of Thomas's poetry is Robert Graves,
Dylan Thomas was drunk with melody, and v*iat the words
were he cared not. He was eloquent, and what cause he was
pleading, he cared not. ... He kept musical control of the
reader without troubling about the sense. ^
On the other hand, critics like Elder Olson and Derek Stanford, vdio
admire and defend Thomas, attempt expositions of the meaning of his
poems. Few studies other than the excellent articles by William T.
Moynihan try to relate the sound and meaning in Thomas's poetry. The
purpose of this study is to submit analyses of certain aspects of the
sound pattern in twenty-eight selected and representative examples of
See "Dylan Thomas: A Review of his Collected Poems ," in
Preliminary Essays (New York, IS 57), p. 182.
The Crowning Privilege: Collected Essays on Poetry (New York,
1956), pp. 158-1 3S. ~ ' ~
Dylan Thomas' s poetry and to relate these aspects of sound to the mean-
ing of his poetry. It is important to emphasize, however, that the
study does not pretend to be absolutely conclusive.
All poetry involves auditory discriminations. Whether or not
sound is emphasized in a particular poem, still it is an integral part
of the poem. To understand both the sound and the meaning of a poem,
Thomas felt, it should be read silently under conditions that allow
the full concentrated time for study and assessment and, viienever
possible, be read orally (or at least be read silently as if one were
hearing it). Silent reading is private reading, and oral reading is
often public reading. In this connection, Thomas said that the printed
page is the place in ^ich to examine the works of a poem, the plat-
form the place in which to give the poem the works. Upon other occa-
sions Thomas more seriously expressed his belief in the importance of
oral reading of poetry. In a B.B.C. broadcast of 1946, he defined
poetry as \
memorable words- in- cadence which move and excite me emotion-
ally. And, once you've got the hang of it, it should always
be better when read aloud than vdien read silently with the
Six years later, in a conference held by Thomas with students at the
University of Utah, he commented upon the value of oral reading in
See "Dylan Thomas on Reading his Poetry: introduction to a
poetry reading," Mademoiselle , XLII (July, 1S56) , 37.
" ^dem .
^Dylan Thomas, James Stephens, and Gerald Bullett, "On poetry:
A Discussion," Encounter, III (November, 1S54), 23.
helping the listener to interpret the meaning of the poem. As Thomas
further said, oral reading of poetry brings the listener closer to the
poet. It follows, then, that a poet's reading of his own poems usu-
ally brings one closest to the poet and to his intended emphases and
meanings of the poems.
As an oral reader of poetry — his own and that of others — Thomas
was superb. In his reading as well as in his writing of poetry, Thomas
concealed his craft in his art. Although he had an acute sense of
timing, volume, expression, and incantatory gestures, to the listener
his performances seemed sheer spontaneous melody. To an unusually
high degree he was able to communicate a poem' s emotion and meaning to
an audience. But these talents carried an inherent weakness (which he
recognized): he was unable to read well poetry that is restrained and
intellectual. Most of the time, however, Thomas was free to choose
the selections he read, and he chose to read only the poets he liked.
"And when I read aloud the poems of modern poets I like very much,"
he said, "I try to make them alive from inside. I try to get across
what I feel, however wrongly, to be the original impetus of the poem.
I am a practicing interpreter, however much of a flannel- tongue d
one-night- stander." Although Thomas asserted that he disliked read-
ing his own poems in public, his readings of them were even more an
interpretation and re-creation than were his readings of other poets'
works. Perhaps Thomas's hesitancy to read his own poems stemmed from
"Eylan Thomas on Reading his Poetry: introduction to a poetry
his realization of the dangers of a poet's reading his own works. '''^
In introducing a reading of his own poems he once explained:
[But the danger] for vdiat a reader-aloud of his own
poems so often does, is to mawken or raelodramatise them,
making a single, simple phrase break with the fears or
throb with the terrors from which he deludes himself the
phrase has been born.
There is the other reader, of course, idio manages, by-
studious flatness, semidetachment, and an almost condescend-
ing under saying of his poems, to give the impression that
■vdiat he really means is: Great things, but my own.^
Thomias further remarked that the suspected weaknesses of a poem are
often confirmed when the author reads his work. Despite his concern
for the problems involved, Thomas did read well many of his own poems.
As John Lehraann said, with Thomas "more than with any other poet of
our time, the voice heightened and illuminated the power of the word.""
But not only does oral reading contribute to the understand-
ing and appreciation of poetry, it can also contribute to the actual
Thomas was certainly sensitive in his criticism of other people
reading his poetry. Once >dien a verse- speaking choir recited "And death
shall have no dominion" to him over the telephone, he described the
reading to Vernon Watkins as "Picked voices picking the rhythm to bits,
chosen elocutionists choosing their own meanings, ten virgins weeping
slowly over a quick line, matrons mooing the refrain, a conductor with
all his vowels planed to the last e." Letters to Vernon Watkins (New
York, 1957), p. 50. (Hereafter this volume will be abbreviated to LVW.)
Quite Early One Zfcrnin^ (Norfolk, Conn., 1954), p. 167.
In E. W. Tedlock, I>ylan Thomas: The Legend and t he Poet
(London, I960), p. 47.
Thomas is one of the few modern poets to have become known
first through his recordings and only later through his printed poems.
Americans first acclaimed Thomas as a result of his recordings with
Caedmon Publishers. In fact, the struggling new Caedmon compare became
successful largely as a result of the popularity of Thomas's readings.
By 1962 the U. S. public had bought 400,000 copies of various record-
ings of I>ylan Thomas reading Dylan Thomas.
creation of poetry. As he composed, Thomas read his poetry aloud to
himself, criticized it, and altered it. Although he has been attacked
for "an unbalanced delight in the mere sound of words," he denied
being more interested in sound than in meaning. Thomas did not alter
portions of a poem purely for the sake of the soimd; his best poetry
reveals more than a mere "lovely gift of the gab." Indeed he once
accused Vernon Watkins of making his criticisms on the basis of sound
rather than of meaning.
I think you are liable, in your criticism of me, to under-
rate the value — or, rather, the integrity, the wioleness —
of wiat I am saying or trying to make clear that I am say-
ing, and often to suggest alterations or amendments for
purely musical motive s.-'-
And any careful study of the many drafts of Thomas's poems reveals
his keen self-criticism which did not allow sound to dictate meaning.
Although Thomas is not (like T. S. Eliot, for example) an intellectual
poet, his poetry does have meaning. Especially in his later poetry,
the meaning is more mood or emotion than thoxight . Within this frame-
work, Thomas attempts to balance sound and meaning. For the ideal
relationship between sound and meaning in poetry of the highest excel-
lence follows Pope's famous dictum that "The sound must seem an Echo
to the sense." In such great poetry — among v^iich Thomas's best de-
serves place — sound is a medium of meaning.
l^Geoffrey Bullough, The Trend of Modern Poetry (London, 1S49),
■"^See Babette Deutsch, Poetry in Our Time (New York, 1956),
••-^W, p. 66.
In order to show in greater detail the nature of Thomas' s
craftsmanship, it is necessary to discuss Thomas' s approach to poetic
con5)osition. His method might well be described generally as "pyro-
technical fragmentation." He began composing most poems merely with
a single phrase or line, usually words with a purely emotional premise.
(A clear illustration is the line "I advance for as long as forever is,"
"vmich was the stimulus for the poem "Twenty-four years.") If the phrase
were resonant and pregnant, it suggested another phrase, which rein-
forced and elaborated (primarily by means of images) the original
emotional premise. In this manner, the poem would develop. The whole
process was rather like an explosion of fireworks— the kind that, after
the original explosion, expands into elaborate patterns.
The analogy should not be carried further. Thomas was a slow,
patient craftsman, who tested each phrase over and over, both silently
and orally. As Vernon Watkins attests
He used separate work-sheets for individual lines, sometimes
a page or two being devoted to a single line, while the poem
was gradually built up, phrase by phrase. He usually had before-
hand an exact conception of the poem' s length, and he would
decide how many lines to allot to each part of its development.
In spite of the care and power and symmetry of its construction,
he recognized at all times that it was for the sake of divine
accidents that a poem existed at all.-^^
Because in his working methods Thomas re-copied the entire poem whenever
he made any revision or addition (no matter how minor or major), his
manuscripts are surprisingly numerous for a single poem. That his
^^VW, p. 17.
method of composition became slower with his later poems-^ helps ex-
plain why his poetic production declined steadily during his career.
An example is the late poem "Fern Hill," which developed from "more
than two hundred separate and distinct versions of the poem."-*-
At all times Thomas had the need to feel the effectiveness of
his poetry. He wanted a poem "to do more than just to have the ap-
pearance of 'having been created'" j-^' he wanted it to be a "fresh
imagining. "-^° He strived to achieve "the strong, inevitable pulling
that makes a poem an event, a happening, an action perhaps, not a
still-life or experience put down, placed, regulated."-'-^ And in his
best poems Thomas does express incontrovertible, living truths..
Because this study concerns the sovmd of poetry, because
Thomas himself stressed the importance of oral reading of poetry, and
because an author's own reading of his poetry illuminates its meaning,
the poems under discussion are limited to the twenty-eight poems
-'-John Malcolm Brinnin, Dylan Thomas in America (New York,
1958), p. 125.
-^"Several examples can readily be cited from Thomas's letters
to Vernon Watkins. In connection with Watkins's criticism of a line
in "Twenty- four years," Thomas said: "And soriy about that bracketed
line in the birthday poem, but, until I can think of something else
or feel, it will have to stay." ( LW , p. 49.) In a similar instance
concerning "Once it was the colour of saying," Thomas explained:
"I see your argument about the error of shape, but the form was con-
sistently emotional and I can't change it without a change of heart."
(LVW, p. 54.)
l^LW, p. 38.
l ^Ibid ., p. 39.
l^Ibid., p. 38.
recorded by Thomas and available on commercial records or on the
University of Florida tape. These twenty-eight poems constitute
almost one-third of Thomas's ninety-one Collected Poems .
Thomas' s poetic productivity was not equal throughout his
career. The number of years which each poetic period covers is roughly
the same: the first period covers five years, the second period six
years, and the third period seven years. But of the poems later pub-
lished in Collected Poems , Thomas wrote seven times as many in the
first poetic period as he wrote in the third poetic period. More spe-
cifically, in his early poetic period (1935-1938), he published fifty-
four of the poems in Collected Poems ; in his middle poetic period
(1939-1945), he published twenty-nine of these poemsj and in his late
poetic period (1946-1953), he published only eight of these poems.
Since Thomas was somewhat hesitant about reading his own poetry in
public and since he chose with particular care those selections he
did read, it is not surprising that a higher percentage of the poems
he wrote in his middle and later poetic periods are recorded by him
than poems he wrote in his early poetic period. Quite naturally, he
read those works he judged his best. The poems \inder consideration in
this study represent about one-fifth of the poems in Collected Poems
wiich Thomas wrote in his early period, about two-fifths of those he
wrote in his middle period, and three-fourths of those he wrote in his
Each of the three periods of Thomas's poetry shall be described
in greater detail in the chapter devoted to the poems of that period.
It is necessary here to say only that these categories, although valid
as outlines to the development of sound and meaning in Thomas's poetry,
are not designed as watertight compartments. The characteristics of
adjacent periods necessarily overlap. Yet their general validity was
recognized by Thomas himself, as recorded by William York Tindall.
The three chapters consider, respectively, Thomas's three
poetic periods. The twenty-eight poems under examination are arranged
chronologically by date of revision (-where applicable) or by date of
composition. The ten poems discussed in the first chapter are:
I - "From love's first fever to her plague"
II - "Light breaks wiere no sun shines"
III - "If I were tickled by the rub of love"
""IV - "Especially when the October wind"-
V - "The hand that signed the paper"
VI - "Should lanterns shine"
VII - "And death shall have no dominion"
VIII - "It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell"
-IX - "After the Funeral"
X - "When all ny five and country senses see"
In the second chapter the twelve poems discussed are:
XI - "'If n^r head hurt a hair's foot'"
XII - "Once below a time"
XHI - "There was a Saviour"
XIV - "On the Marriage of a Virgin"
XV - "The Ballad of the Long-legged Bait"
XVI - "The Hunchback in the Park"
XVH - "Ceremony After a Fire Raid"
^^See "Burning and Crested Song," American Scholar , XXII
(Autumn, 1953), 488-489.
^he chronology follows the listing by Ralph N. Maud in
"Dylan Thomas' Collected Poems ; Chronology of Composition," PMLA ,
LXXVI (June, 1961), 2S2-297.
-XVIII - "Poem in October"
'XIX - "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire,
of a Child in London"
-XX - "A Winter's Tale"
XXI - "Fern Hill"
XXII - "In my Craft or Sullen Art"
The six poems discussed in the third chapter are:
XXni - "In Country Sleep"
XXIV - "Over Sir John' s hill"
XXV - "In the ;*ite giant's thigh"
XXVI - "Do not go gentle into that good night"
-XXVn - "Lament"
-XXVUI - "Poem on his Birthday"
The poems in the first chapter are representative of Thomas's first
poetic period, those in the second chapter, of his second period, and
those in the third chapter, of his third period, ^^ The three periods
show Thomas's evolution as a poet.
Various methods of analyzing sound are possible. It was an
original purpose of this study to analyze the twenty-eight poems in
respect to three physical elements of sound: striking power, tone,
The striking power (the relative intensity or dynamic power) is
the capacity of syllables or words to command auditory attention. Like
the analyses of tone and pitch, it was calculated for each syllable of
each poem. The procedure for striking power followed — with some in-
evitable modifications for British English — the acoustic table of
Appendix III is an alphabetized index of Dylan Thomas's
Collected Poems 1954-1952 which will facilitate the reader in finding
a poem in either the Dent or the New Directions editions. It would
be advantageous for the reader of the commentaries to refer to each
poem as it is discussed.
striking power established by the research of Ernest Robson.^^ His
table is based upon the striking powers of the individual sounds of
speech, which were evaluated in syllables v*ose tone levels and time
durations were constant. The table presents the striking power num-
bers in numerical positions relative to the weakest sound (th), which
is assigned the nianber 1. Thus the striking power numbers of the
stronger sounds are solely indications of their striking power rela-
tive to th. Each articulated vowel or consonant contributes its own
striking power to the syllable which contains it. Naturally, the
greater the number or density of consonants in a syllable, the greater
its striking power. ^'^ The references in the following chapters to
words of high striking power are to those whose striking power number
is 40 or over.
The tone is the innate "musical" notation of the vowel sounds,
based upon the positions of the mouth in articulating the particular
vowel. For Thomas's pronujiciation, the vowel scale listed below was
used. The classification is not a strictly scientific one, but does
arrange the vowels in a continuum (from 13 to l) , beginning with those
pronounced high and toward the front of the mouth, progressing through
those pronounced low to those pronounced high and toward the back of the
mouth. In the case of vowels with a muffled quality (s, a, 3*, and ^)^^
'See rne Orchestra of the Language (New York, 1959), p. 156
The account of Robson' s method of assessing striking power
derives from the explanations in The Orchestra of the Language
pp. 43-44. &— S_»
For the index to these phonetic symbols, see p. 14.
and of diphthongs, their arrangement depends upon the impression they
produce on the hearer. The total effect, then, is an arrangement in
relative order from clear, thin, bright vowels to darker, richer, more
resonant vowels. For present purposes, it is useful to group together
certain vowels ^ich are simlar in the impression they produce on the
hearer. It must be pointed out, however, that technically the sounds
i, I ,13
a, A , »-
The pitch, or relative "musical" notation of the individual
speaker's syllables, was estimated by concentrated and repeated lis-
tenings to each syllable of the recordings of the twenty-eight poems.
Appendix I explains the problems—unsurmountable , in this case— in-
volved in obtaining a more scientific analysis of the pitch patterns.
Patterns of striking power, tone, and pitch were graphed for
the syllables of each of the twenty-eight poems. Contrary to expec-
tation, no distinct and significant correlation between the patterns
For the index to these phonetic symbols, see p. 14.
characterized the three poetic periods of Thomas's poetry. These sound
patterns reflected the meaning only in a few instances, vrtiich vdll be
pointed out in the pertinent commentaries. Because the results of the
investigation proved mostly negative, graphs of only one poem from each
poetic period will be reproduced (in Appendix II) in illustration of
the method of analysis attempted. It is suggested, however, that
similar studies be undertaken in connection with other poets. A com-
parative analysis of the patterns of striking power, tone, and pitch
in the poetry of contrasted pairs (for example, Thomas and Spender as
compared with Auden and Eliot) might well illuminate the auditory
techniques of so-called romantic and so-called intellectual poets.
The procedure of the present study is to discuss each of the
representative poems from Thomas's three poetic periods in respect to
its characteristic and its unusual auditory elements. Each commentary
takes into consideration two poetic components closely related to sound
(1) prosodic structure — syllabic patterns, stress patterns,
paragraph or stanza formation, line-end word patterns,
distribution of pauses
(2) auditory repetitions and links, especially in arrange-
ments of vowel and consonantal sounds.
Throughout the study, references to vowel and consonantal
sounds use the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. The
most frequently used symbols are identified as follows:
Symbol Pronmiciation Symbol Pronunciation
The discussion of prosodic structure and auditory repetitions
and links reveals some of the changes in Thomas's poetic style.
Fundamentally, the earlier poetry is staccato in its rhythm and com-
pressed (sometimes obscxire) in its meaning; the later poetry is
legato in its rhythm and relatively simple in its meaning. Thomas
referred to his poetry as "the record of my individual struggle from
darkness towards some measure of light," and certainly the meaning
Quite Early One Morning, p. 188,
of his poetry does progress from the darkness of self-concern and fear
to the light of faith and love. (Perhaps Thomas was expressing his
expanded vision when he wrote — in "Ceremony After a Fire Raid" — that
"Love is the last light spoken.") This study attempts to point out
some of the tendencies which contribute to the general contrast
between the earlier and later poetry — for example, the shift in pho-
netic atmosphere from a striking use of explosives to a more subtle
use of continuants, the shift in structure from relatively end- stopped
units to longer grammatical units, and the shift toward increasingly
intricate and pervasive designs of auditory repetitions and of syllabic
and stress patterns. It is further submitted that Thomas's progress
toward simplicity and lyricism was to some extent a conscious effort.
Tnrough oral reading of poetry on the radio and in lectures, Thomas
came to realize that sound should not dominate one's first impression
of a poem, but that sound and meaning should reinforce each other and
simultaneously affect the reader.
It is not to be thought that the study exhausts the possibil-
ities even of the limited aspects of sound and meaning which are
explored. A complete study would probably be so complex as to break
down under its own machinery. Although scientific methods can be
applied for purposes of analysis, poetry itself is no science.
Formulas cannot dictate poetry of high excellence. When asked for the
rules of poetry, Thomas replied that there weren't any, that a poet
made his own rules, and that the result either was or wasn't poetry.
^^See Caitlin Thomas, Leftover Life to Kill (New York, 1957),
Some of the subtlest and loveliest auditory effects, indeed, escape
analysis. Though Thomas was a dedicated craftsman, he believed poetry
to be ultimately a sublime enigma:
You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it technically
tick, and say to yourself t^en the works are laid out
before you, the vowels, the consonants, the rhymes and
rhythms. Yes, this is it, this is vhj the poem moves me so.
It is because of the craftsmanship. But you're back again
vttiere you began. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes
and gaps in the works of the poems so that something that is
not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thxinder in.*^^
It is the purpose here to contribute to the understanding of the
craftsmanship and the appreciation of the genius of Thomas's poetry.
"Dylan Thomas on Reading his Poetry: introduction to a
poetry reading," 57.
The following chapter discusses ten of the poems from Thomas's
most prolific and experimental period, 1933 to 1939:
I - "From love's first fever to her plague"
II - "Light breaks where no sun shines"
rri - "If I were tickled by the rub of love"
IV - "Especially when the October wind"
V - "The hand that signed the paper"
"VI - "Should lanterns shine"
VII - "And death shall have no dominion"
Vni - "It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell"
IX - "After the Funeral"
X - "When all my five and country senses see"
The chief quality of these poems — in contrast to Thomas's later poems-
is their compressed meaning. Thomas himself best explains his method
of obtaining this impression through the use of conflicting images:
I let an image be made emotionally in me and then apply
to it what intellectual and critical force I possess; let
it breed another; let that image contradict the first; make
of the third image out of the other two together, a fourth con-
tradictory image, and let them all, within my imposed formal
limits, conflict. . . . The life in any poem of mine cannot
move concentrically round a central image, the life must come
out of the centre; an image must be bom and die in another;
and any sequence of my images must be a sequence of creations,
recreations, destructions, contradictions.-^
Like the images, the themes of the early poems arise from opposites —
notably, the "womb- tomb" theme, Sound patterns frequently do not |
correlate with meaning; vnien they do, it is most often in only a
phrase or line. And the general auditory pattern is of a staccato
■"■C. Day-Lewis, The Poetic Image (New York, 1947), p. 122.
rhythm, enhanced by a predominance of striking explosives, by a tend-
ency toward metrical regularity, by characteristically end-stopped
lines, and by obvious rather than subtle auditory repetitions. In
short, the early poems tend to be compressed and "obscure" in meaning,
striking but obvious in sound.
"From love's first fever to her plague" seems, at a first
glance, as if it might be throughout rather smooth and light in
rhythm. The syllabic pattern is quite irregular; the lines are long
but varied (from four to thirteen syllables); the line-end word pat-
terns reveal no significant assonance or consonance; the paragraph
formation ranges from three to nine lines in a paragraph. In them-
selves these characteristics could contribute to a fluid rhythm.
Other elements, however, combine to make the rhythn predominantly
slow, if not sometimes heavy. The speech-stress patterns generally
tend toward the iambic and, in paragraph VI, are almost perfectly
I learnt the verbs of will, and ''had my secret;
The 'code of night ''tapped on ray ^tongue;
What ''had been 'one was Itnany ^sounding "minded.
The syntactical repetitions (the nvunerous phrases beginning with
"from" and the phrases "One womb, one mind," "One breast," and "One
sun, one manna") and the echoes ("Shone in my ears the light of
^nroughout the study the speech-stress patterns ar« based on
Thomas's speech stresses in his recorded readings of his poetry.
soxind, / Called in my eyes the sound of light") are obvious auditory
links. There is a high frequency of pauses: twenty- two occur witnin
lines and thirty-eight occur at line ends. Because nearly 80 per
cent of the lines conclude with the finality of a comma or period, it
is not surprising that most of the lines end in weighty words, many of
which are noims. (Indeed, most of these nouns are stressed monosyl-
lables.) It is interesting to note that every paragraph terminates in
The poem concerns the evolution of a poet from the simplicity
of innocent childhood to the complexity of bewildered adolescence to
the simplicity- in- complexity of mature manhood. To a certain extent
the poem's phonetics shift to reinforce the shift in meaning. That is,
the opening paragraphs seem smooth and light •vdien compared with the
slower, heavier, later paragraphs. In the opening paragraphs the
voiced continuants frequently produce a soft, lingering effectj in the
later paragraphs the explosives frequently produce a sharp, clipped
The apparent simplicity of infancy is reflected in the pre-
dominant monosyllables and the simple balance and repetition of the
lines descriptive of man's earliest years. In "All world was one, one
windy nothing," alliteration and assonance are obvious in the five w
"throughout the study the temi "pauses" refers to any punc-
tuation mark in the poetry which designates an interval of silence.
Such a cyclical theme is common in Thomas, vdio (like William
Blake) seems to have believed that without contraries there can be no
sounds, three n sounds, two 1 sounds, and three a sounds. The single-
ness of a child's vision is emphasized by the repetition of the word
"one" in his verse as well as in the closing lines of the stanza:
And earth and sky were as one airy hill,
The sun and moon shed one white light.
The simple sound pattern of two internal rhymes within one line ("sun,"
"one" and "white," "light") reinforces the meaning. Part of the melodi-
ousness of the line results from the almost continuous alternation
between vowel (or semi-vowel) and consonant in these two lines. The
exceptions to this alternation are climaxed by the two final stops t
and the initial labial 1 in the strong, slow phrase "imite light."
The final lines of stanzas I and II form closely related lines
placed in inverted order:
And earth and sky were as one airy hill.
The sun and moon shed one ^ite light.
The sun was red, the moon was grey.
The earth and sky were as two mountains meeting,
A noteworthy aspect of the soimd structure of these four related lines
is that, in the speech-stressed syllables, the patterns of the strik-
ing power and the vowel tone are relatively parallel. Since these
patterns move in the same direction, they reinforce each other's
audibility. For "The sun and moon shed one i^diite light" is an emotion-
ally charged line in which the crescendo builds to two final words of
high and almost identical power and of identical tone: "white light."
Stanza I, lines
8 and 9
Stanza II, lines
5 and 6
In later paragraphs the complexity of adolescent and adult life
is often echoed in the profusion of explosives, such as in the lines
"The root of tongues ends in a spent-out _cancer, / That but a name,
where maggots have their X [cross]." The concept of the slow, painful
process of reaching maturity is reinforced by the assonantal wail in
"wise to the crying thigh." The feelings of harshness of life are
reflected in consecutive stressed monosyllables and the insistent
alliteration of "Need no word's warmth."
Other aspects of the poem also reveal the evolution of the
poet's growth toward consciousness and maturity. Persona references,
for example, are first to "nry world" in general, later to "my ears,"
"my eyes," and "n^ mother," and then directly to "I." These refer-
ences show the poet' s progression from the outwardness of childhood to
the inwardness and self-consciousness of adolescence. When the poet
is unconcerned with his own identity and considers the universe as
a single entity ("one windy nothing"), his world is apparently simple;
when he becomes self-conscious and divorces himself from the universe,
his world is complex. Yet in the closing lines the mature poet grad-
ually realizes the wisdom of experience, the simplicity in multiplic-
ity: "one sun, one manna, warmed and fed." Only when he dissolves
himself in the eternity of "the hundred seasons" does the poet recon-
struct and comprehend the true simplicity.
In general, then, the sound in "From love's first fever to her
plague" reflects the meaning in that the impression of the opening
paragraphs is of relative simplicity and the impression of the later
paragraphs is of relative complexity. In the opening paragraphs con-
tinuants and vowels are more prominent, and in the later paragraphs
explosives and consonantal clusters become more conspicuous.
"Light breaks where no sun shines" is a deliberate and forceful
poem. Its five stanzas are composed of six lines each, in regular
syllabic verse with a sustained pattern:
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 6 10 4 10 4 10
II 6 10 4 10 4 10
III 6 10 4 10 4 10
IV 6 10 4 10 4 10
V 6 10 4 10 6 10
Although no definite pattern of speech st resses appea rs, scattered
occurrences of consecutive stressed monosyllables seem outstanding.
And, stressed or unstressed, the words of the poem are, in about nine
out of ten cases, mo nosyUabl es. Another factor contributing to the
forcefulness of "Light breaks" is that one out of every six syllables
is of high striking power. No other poem under consideration has pro-
portionately so m any syllable s of high striking p ower. And these syl-
lables occur, interestingly enough, in an initial position in one out
of every three lines and in a terminal position in one out of every
three lines. As for the pauses in the poem, three-fourths of the lines
are end- stopped (with all the paragraphs ending with a period) . Such
a balanced and emphasized structure helps create an insistent rhythmic
As to his method of composition, Thomas might well have com-
posed the poem aro\ind the phrase "where no sun shines." The method of
building a poem of music and meaning from a single phrase was a practice
not uncommon to Thomas. Witness his statements in Letters to Vernon
Watkins concerning the following phrases: "when I woke the dawn spoke"
(the inspiration for the poem by that title), "I advance for as long
as forever is" (the inspiration for "Twenty-four years"), and "desire-
less familiar" (the inspiration for "To Others than You") . Further
evidence of the possibility that the phrase "where no sun shines" may
have formed the nucleus for "Light breaks" is the fact that only a
month before writing this poem Tnoraas had used similar word-order in
two phrases in "From love's first fever to her plague": "T^Jhen no mouth
stirred" (I, 5) and "vmo . . . Need no word's warmth" (V,6).
Such a hypothesis as to Thomas's method of composition probably
cannot be substantiated, since, according to Ralph N. Maud, the MS.
y version for "Light breaks where no sun shines" shows few if any var-
iants. Nonetheless, it is indisputable that t he phra se is the syn- ^7
tactical basis of the poem. In stanza I occur "vmere no sun shines,"
"¥ne re no sea runs ," and ">diere no flesh decks the bones." Thereafter
the repetitions occur with diminishing frequency: in Stanza II, "Where
no seB^ stirs: and "Where_ no wax i j" ; in stanza IV, "Where no cold is."
These consecutive stressed monosyllables hammer a steady, strong rhythm.
Like the syntactical repetitions, other aspects of the organ-
ization of this poem are also more deliberate and obvious in the open-
ing stanzas than in the succeeding ones. For example, in both stanza I
and stanza II lines 1, 3, 4, and 6 end in a z sound; in the succeeding
stanzas a final z or s sound at the end of the line occurs irregularly.
Throughout the poem a large percentage of the words terminate with a
sibilant. Indeed such a prominence of sibilants may reveal that Thomas's
early experimentation with correlating or contrasting sound and meaning
is not always successful.^ In an informally taped recording (made in
Gainesville, Florida, in 1950, with only his host. Gene Baro, present)
Thomas mars this poem with four small misreadings, all involving the
%ne successful use of the sibilants— in conjunction with the t
sound — is discussed below.
final s sound." Naturally such minor misreadings are insignificant
in themselves, but they do indicate that even Thomas himself found the
frequent occurrence of sibilants somevihat confusing.
The variety of relationships among the line-end words merits
attention. The predominance of final consonance (of sibilants) has
already been discussed. Initial consonance occurs in "heart," "heads";
"rounds," "robes." Assonance occurs in "shines," "tides," "light";
"bone," "robes," "globes"; "unpin," "lids." Initial and final conso-
nance occur in "stirs," "stars." Pull rhyme occurs in "robes,"
"globes"; "die," "eye." Of the internal auditory effects one of the
most suggestive occurs in the line "Divining in a smile the oil of
tears." With assonance linked with approximate rhyme, the phrase
glides smoothly. The final word, "tears," is the only important word
omitted from this linkage, and its isolation helps to point out the
semantic contrast between "smile" and "tears."
According to most interpretations, the chief concern of "Light
breaks" i^_, sexual activity which leads to the conception of new life. \J
The prospect of new life "where no sun shines" seems viewed with hope.
even though death is implicit in life.-^ But in the final line the
point of emphasis shifts suddenly; Thomas refers here not to the ful-1
filled but to the unfulfilled sexual activity — i.e., the "waste "^
'"Thomas reads "seas run" for Collected Poems "sea runs,"
"socket" for C.P. "sockets," "limits" for C.P. "limit," and "allot-
ment" for C.P. "allotments."
That line 5 — "And blood jumps in the sun" — concludes this
main thematic development of the poem is accentuated by the fact that
it is the only irregularity in the syllabic pattern of the poem. It
is lengthened from four to six syllables.
allotments" or sperm which will not fertilize. Over these the sun
(the source of life and death) will never rise; "the dawn halts."
Because it bears the concluding and perhaps imexpected observation of
the poem, the final line is extremely important:
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
The strong emotional effect of the lines is influenced by the skillfiil
use of combinations of s and t. For, sound reinforces meaning as the
line itself halts with harsh consonantal clusters: "waste," "allot-
ments," "halts." Moreover, the spondee of the monosyllables "dawn
halts" — especially since it follows the long, relatively fluid "allot-
ments" — creates a marked staccato rhythm. And the sharp fall of the
tone of the line and the assonance of the two final words ("dawn
halts") contribute to the singular effectiveness of the poem' s con-
In "If I were tickled by the rub of love" the poet wonders
what should be the ultimate consideration in his life and poetry.
Basically the treatment of the theme revolves upon a serious pun.
With reference to Hamlet's fifth soliloquy, the "rub" is the obstacle
causing fear of death. But Thomas, like the Queen in Richard II, feels
that "the world is full of rubs." He is concerned with a rub (a fric-
tion) that will tickle one to forget, at least for the present, the
problem of death.
In the opening stanza the phonetic atmosphere revolves aroiind
the predominant consonant of the theraatically most important word:
"tickle." The explosive k and its cognate sound g echo throughout the
stanza: "rooking/' "girl," "Broke," "breaking," "cattle," "calve,"
"scratch." Other explosives emphasize the auditory links: "rub "
"side," "bandaged," "red," "set," "apple," "flood," "bad," "blood,"
"spring." These consonants— particularly the unvoiced ones (p, t, k) —
produce a clipped, staccato effect.
In succeeding stanzas Thomas implies that if true love existed
for hijti he would be able to meet the prospect of death. Since the
world is imperfect ("half the devil's and ray own"), perfect love seems
unattainable, and the forces of decay and death continuously worm their
way into life. As Thomas expresses it with a brilliant and character-
istic pun on "quick" as "life" or "living" :-'--^
I sit and watch the worm beneath ray nail
Wearing the quick away.^^
The poet understands that this life-in-death situation is true reality,
"the only rub that tickles." Yet his conclusion is remarkably hopeful,
for he decides that in his life and poetry he "would be tickled by the
rub that is: / Man be my metaphor." In this final phrase the skillful
use of alliteration (in "Man," "ny," "metaphor") and of a polysyllable
as a line-end word contributes to a strong and memorable closing.
^^Such a meaning of "quick" is familiar in the phrase "the
quick and the dead."
A more obvious instance of Thomas's use of "quick" as "liv-
ing" is in "A Winter's Tale," VI, 4, where he substitutes for the
proverbial "in the dead of nig}.t," "in the quick of night."
This poem, I feel, is not among Thomas's more successful pieces.
Although several phrases have brilliance, the depth of meaning and the
consistency of approach throughout the poem leave something to be
desired. There appears to be no form of definite advance or of mean-
ingful repetition. Perhaps part of the weakness of the piece lies in
the strict but relatively functionless regularity of the form. There
are seven stanzas of seven lines each in syllabic verse of the follow-
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 10 10 10 10 10 10 6
II 10 10 10 10 10 10 6
III 11 10 10 11 10 10 6
IV 15 10 10 10 10 10 6
V 10 10 10 10 10 10 6
VI 11 10 10 11 10 10 6
VII 10 10 10 10 10 10 6
And the seeming exceptions to the pattern — the four Instances of eleven
syllables — are actually in identical positions in their respective
stanzas. Further, the eleventh syllable in each case results from a
feminine ending. Throughout the entire poem the final word of each
line is a monosyllable except in these four cases and in the final
line, "Man be my metaphor." Although there are few internal pauses,
most of the lines are end-stopped, and all the paragraphs conclude with
a period. The relationship between the line-end words, however, pre-
vents the ends of the lines from seeming over-emphasized. The line-end
words do not rhyme (except in the instances of "string," "spring" and
"own," "bone") . Instead, in the first six stanzas, final consonance
occurs in the line-end words, in the pattern of abcacbc.
I love, calve IV nib, crib
side, flood lock, broke
string, lirng, spring jaw_s, flie^, toes
II c ells , heels V own, bone
flesh, axe girl, nail
hair, thigh, war eye, sea, away
III fingers, hungers VI tickles, chuckle
men, loin sex, six
love, nerve, grave twist, breast, dust
Exceptions occur in II b and c, in V c (wiere final vowels replace
final consonants), and in VI a. The final stanza is quite irregular
and contains only vestiges of the pattern of final consonance.
"If I were tickled by the rub of love" provides an interest-
ing study of Thomas's early craftsmanship. For in its marked use of
end-stopped lines, of syntactical repetitions ("If I were tickled by
the . . ."), of serious puns, and of explosives, the poem is typical
of his early period.
"Especially when the October wind" is one of the finest of
Thomas's early achievements. His technique of immediacy is partially
responsible for the poem's success. A metaphoric structure is uti-
lized to communicate poetically the narrator' s experiences, for Thomas
describes the poet's visual and auditory perceptions on a particular
October day in the terminology of poetic language: "syllabic blood,"
"wordy shapes of women," "vowelled beeches," "water's speeches,"
"meadow's signs," "the signal grass," and "dark- vowelled birds."
The imagery of the poem is both visual and auditory. The
visual image of "the rows / Of the star-gestured children in the park"
vividly suggests the playing youngsters who, with arms and legs
outstretched in uncontrolled abandon, momentarily resemble pointed
stars. And the auditory image of "The spider- tongued, and the loud
hill of VJales" is only one illustration of the "autumnal spells"
which culminate in the final line of the poem: "By the sea' s side
hear the dark-vowelled birds." The absence of consonantal clusters,
the alliteration ("sea's side"), and the assonance ("By," "side")
enhance the smooth roll of the rhythm in the final line.
"Especially idaen the October wind" has many of the same char-
acteristics as "If I were tickled by the rub of love." It is regular
in form (with four stanzas of eight lines each) . It is almost regular
in syllabic pattern:
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
II 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 11
III 10 10 11 10 10 10 10 in
IV 10 10 10 10 10 11 11 9
It has syntactical repetitions (namely, "Some let me make you of . . .")
In the line-end words the final consonance forms a definite pattern
-'-^nlike "If I were tickled by the rub of love," the deviations
from the syllabic pattern in "Especially when the October wind" do not
in themselves form a minor pattern caused by feminine endings.
I vrmd, land III clock, co£k
hair, fire meaning, morning
birds, words signs, sins
st icks , talks know, eye
II mark, park IIT wind, land
trees, rows spells, Wales
be eches , spe eches words, birds
roots, n otes scurry, fuiy
Sometimes the similarity between the pairs is complete rhyme, as in
"birds," "words" J "mark," "park"; "beeches," "speeches"; "clock,"
"cock." Occasionally the similarity is between the initial and final
consonants, as in "sins" and "signs" and (with the exception of the
medial consonant r, vdiich Thomas de-emphasized) in "meaning" and "morn-
ing." Also like "If I were tickled by the rub of love," the poem has
numerous end-stopped lines. But the only complete pauses in the poem
(i.e., the period punctuation marks) occur at the ends of lines and,
primarily, at the ends of lines 4 and 8 of a stanza. Combined with the
line-end word pattern of final consonance, the pause pattern helps to
link the four- line units together.
Yet "Especially when the October wind" seems less regular and
more subtle than most of Thomas's earlier poems. In part the difference
arises from the more continuous and prominent visual and auditory im-
agery and from the swifter rhythm. In general, the poem has fewer
consonantal clusters, more semi-vowels ("wordy . . , women," "windy
weather," "vormy winter," among others), and more effective
Note that the first and last stanzas are linked not only by
identical opening lines, but also by two sets of identical line-end
words: "wind," "land," and "words," "birds."
polysyllables. (The opening word of the poem, the polysyllabic
"Especially," blows a gusty rhythm; the similarity between "when" and
"wind" echoes gently.)
The sound effects in "Especially when the October wind" help
blend harmoniously together the various experiences on an October day
which the poet is attempting to express and simultaneously to commu-
nicate to the reader.
"The hand that signed the paper" is characterized by compression,
objectivity, and clarity. Because few of Thomas's poems can be so de-
scribed, it seems important to discuss some of the artistic devices em-
ployed in this brief but emphatic poem.
The subjective references common in Thomas's poetry are lacking
in "The hand that signed the paper." Instead, Thomas is unusually
detached from the poem. Throughout the first stanza, for example, the
king is progressively depersonalized and fragmented. His "hand" be-
comes "five sovereign fingers" and finally — because the fingers that
sign the paper symbolize the king's greatest power — "five kings."
In large part the poem' s objectivity is successful because Thomas
presents a pitiable situation by stating only the stark facts — such
as "And famine grew, and locusts came" — and expressing no sentiments.
As a result, the reader's reaction is all the more sincerely sympathetic.
The formal structure of "The hand that signed the paper" is
tightly organized and very functional in that it contributes to the
poem's forcefulness. The four stanzas of four lines each have the
following pattern, -vmich is regular except in the last line of
Niunber of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
11 8 11 8
11 8 11 6
11 8 11 6
11 8 11 6
The rhythm of the speech stresses in the poem is one of Thomas's closest
approaches to regular iambic. Yet the speech-stress pattern is not
absolutely regular, and the distribution of emphases is related sig-
nificantly to the development of the poem. In the first stanza there
are two instances of consecutive stressed syllables ("Five sovereign"
and "These five kings") and in the second stanza one instance ("hand
leads") . These early occurrences give only a suggestion of the accu-
mulated emphases of stanza I?; the absence of such emphases in stanza
III makes stanza IV the more forceful. The final stanza concerns
absolute power and rule; it is thus fitting that the rhythm, reinforc-
ing the meaning, be powerful and emphatic. The accumulation of con-
secutive stresses — in "five kings count," "hand niles pity," "hand
rules heaven," and "no tears" — helps lend the conclusion the desired
effect of power and emphasis.
The line-end word arrangement is fairly regular: the first
and third lines of each stanza end in feminine words 'vdiich (in the un-
stressed syllable only) rhyme; the second and fourth lines end in
monosyllables v*iich (with the exception of "brow," "flow") are full
rhymes. Supported by generally end-stopped lines, the line-end words
receive considerable emphasis. The position of other important words
in the poem seems also to be carefully controlled. The initial word
of each line is either very weak or strong. Half the lines begin
weakly with "A" or "The"j therefore when an important word begins a
line it is further strengthened by contrast with the initial particles
in other lines. For example, witness the effectiveness of the con-
cluding line — "Hands have no tears to flow" — which follows line 1
beginning with "The," line Z with "The," and line 3 with "A," In the
medial position in the lines, the high striking power of many of the
words gives them forcefulness. This is the more interesting since,
in the earlier poems studied, 36 per cent to 55 per cent of the high
striking power words occur in initial and terminal positions; in
"The hand that signed the paper" only 8 per cent occur in initial or
terminal positions, and all the rest in medial positions. The emphases
in the terminal position in this poem result from the line-end word
arrangement and from the pauses determined by punctuation marks. Only
three of the lines have no terminal punctuation, and only one line
has internal pimctuation. The necessity to pause on a rhyme lends
emphasis to the terminal words in the line.
Auditory repetitions within the lines also form a means of
increased emphasis. Consider the consonantal echoes in
The hand that si gned the paper felle_d a city
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country.
Even more obvious are the syntactical repetitions (e.g., "felled a
city," "taxed the breath," "Doubled the globe," "halved a country";
"And famine grew," "and locusts came").
"The hand that signed the paper" is, then, a noteworthy early
example of Thomas's correlating sound and sense throughout a poem.
The poem concerns power, and the elements of sound enhance emphatic
"Should lanterns shine" is a brief, nineteen-line poem about
the youthful narrator's attempts to find a valid guide in life. In
structure the poem is looser than any of the poems previously consid-
ered, all of which — except "From love's first fever to her plague" —
are in regular stanzas of more or less strictly patterned verse.
"Should lanterns shine" consists of two long paragraphs followed by
two very short paragraphs. The syllabic structure is irregular, with
fewer syllables in the lines of the last two paragraphs than in those
of the first paragraphs:
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 8 12 10 8 8 10 10 10
II 10 8 10 11 10 14 8
III 9 8
IV 10 6
The line-end words form no pattern, although one instance of rhyme
occurs and three instances of initial consonance occur. The metrical
stress pattern tends toward iambic tetrameter and iambic pentameter,
but the speech stress is diverse.
In its auditory elements as well as in its prosodic structure
the poem shows less obvious patterning than most of Thomas's earlier
pieces. Further, the tempo of the first two paragraphs is some-v^at
faster than that of the last two paragraphs. In the opening ones, the
comparatively long poetic statements, the several polysyllables, and
the predominance of vowel soxinds over consonantal sounds tend to pro-
duce a swift rhythm. A main auditory element of the opening paragraphs,
for example, is the rather high frequency of a vowel sound as the ini-
tial or final syllable of a word, as in
Caught in an octagon of unaccustomed light
The mummy clothes expose an ancient breast
And, ■v^en it quickens, alter the actions pace.
The emphasis in the poem upon vowel sounds and the sparseness of conso-
nantal clusters make particularly prominent any repetition of consonants;
witness the use in
Till field and roof lie level and the same.
The prolonged effect of the continuant 1 — especially since it is
repeated five times within a single line — makes the rhythm smoothly
reinforce the meaning.
In sound and meaning "Should lanterns shine" provides a con-
trast between the diversity of the first two paragraphs and the suc-
cinctness of the last tv7o. In the first two paragraphs of the poem,
the narrator considers various guides in life. But he believes that
conventional religions are satisfactory guides only -when one accepts
unquestioningly the basic assxmiptions5 i.e., religions are valid only
"in their private dark." The rituals (clothes) of conventional reli-
gions are, he thinks, outdated, ancient, mummied. Other guides are
equally faulty. Both the heart and the mind are helpless guides, the
narrator feels, and instinct is an unreliable guide. In the final two
paragraphs he muses upon the fact that for years he has been trying
the suggested guides, "And many years should see some change." But
his years' long search for a valid guide is still incomplete:
The ball I threw while playing in the park
Has not yet reached the ground.
These cryptic, symbolic final two lines climax the poem and are dis-
tinctive in large part because of the contrast with the earlier para-
graphs. The longer lines and paragraphs of the opening, its swifter
tempo and its unobtrusive patterning set apart and emphasize the poem' s
"And death shall have no dominion," one of Thomas's best-known
poems, concerns immortality viewed from spiritual and physical focuses.
As Thomas E. Connolly has observed, stanza I depicts heaven, stanza II
depicts hell, and stanza III treats of the physical indestructibility
See "Thomas' 'And Death Shall Have No Dominion,'" Explicator ,
XIV (January, 1S56) , item 35.
Each of the three stanzas is of nine lines, but the pattern of
the syllabic verse is irregular:
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 8 8 10 11 9 8 11 8 8
II 8 8 10 9 S 8 10 7 8
III 8 8 8 11 9 8 11 9 8
Speech stresses vary considerably. Over half the lines open with a
stressed syllable, and many lines contain both anapests and iambs.
Occasional consecutive stressed syllables stand out clearly and under-
score heavily the meaning of the word, as in the staccato phrases
"Dead men naked," "clean bones "gone," and "split all ends up." Un-
pattemed, too, is the use of assonance and final consonance in the
terminal words of the lines. However, not only do most of the line-end
words end in a punctuated pause, but they also end in an n sound.
Thereby the thematically important word "doradnion" is emphasized. The
poem is linked structurally, though, less by patterns of stresses, of
line-end words, and of pauses than by syntactical repetitions. For
example, consecutive lines in stanza I begin respectively with "They,"
"Though they," "Though they," "Though," and the first and last lines
of each stanza repeat the theme- statement, "And death shall have no
dominion . "
In certain lines the vowel and consonantal arrangements com-
plement the meaning. Two of the key words in the line "And death shall
have no dominion" are related by alliteration of the sound d: "death"
and "dominion." The short vowel a«. occurs in three unstressed words
("And," "shall," "have"). The only other word ir. the line ("no") has
its consonant echoed twice in the succeeding word, "dominion." The
assonance and consonance in the statement of the theme do, then, help
it to ring with conviction. Other lines also have interesting auditory
affinities. One line from each stanza will be selected for comment.
In stanza I the transposition of the well-known phrases "the man in
the moon" and "the west wind" into
With the man in the wind and the west moon
creates an intricate, melodious auditory pattern. "Wind" and "west"
are linked by alliteration, and "wind" is further related to three un-
stressed words (to "with" by alliteration and assonance, to "in" by
assonance, and to "and" by final consonance) . "Man" and "moon" are
linked by both initial and final consonance. Moreover, the graphs of
the striking power and vowel tone for this line are closely parallel.
Stanza I, line 3
In stanza H in the line "Twisting on racks when sinews give way," all
the stressed vowels are short and high (reflecting the fitfulness and
intensity of the pain of the damned) till the swift tempo and increasing
pressure are relieved by the long e sound (reflecting the contrast in
meaning here, the physical giving way of the tortured sinews) . There
is a marked contrast also between the consonants at the beginning and
the end of the line. The unvoiced sibilants and explosives of the
beginning give the impression of abruptness and effort, and the semi-
vowel of "way" gives the impression of soft continuity and auditory
"giving way." Yet, as the later lines signify, those in hell never
die J they live in eternal punishment. In stanza HI the theme is ex-
pressed by the image of vegetable life renewing itself and popping up:
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies.
The line is quite rapid, because no heavy syllables slow down the
rhythm. The strong, pulsating dactylic meter further suggests the
meaning of the entire poem — the corollary of "death shall have no
dominion" — life is triumphant.
"It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell," one of Thomas's so-
called marriage poems, is in five stanzas of six lines each. The
syllabic pattern, however, is quite irregular, although lines 3 and 6
are always shorter and have fewer stresses than the other lines.
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 13 12 8 13 12 8
II 11 14 8 13 12 8
III 15 12 8 13 15 8
IV 14 13 7 13 15 7
V 15 14 8 15 14 8
The speech stresses are also irregular, except in that lines 3 and 6
usually have fewer stresses than the other lines. The metrical pattern
varies, often to suit the meaning of the individual line. Note the
contrast in meter and meaning between the following lines. On the one
hand, the sets of consecutive stressed monosyllables in "Time marks
a 'black aisle" stalks slowly, reinforcing the mearing. On the other
hand, the two anapests separated by an iamb in "In a holy room in a
wave" flow smoothly and— supported by the unobtrusive continuants and
semi- vowel — veiy quietly.
But -wiat gives the stanzas their most common and specific organ-
ization is the pattern of final consonance in the line-end words. This
consonance links lines 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6, so that the pattern
is abcabc . The only variations in the scheme are in pairing the ks
sound of "fireworks" with the jc sound of "weather-cock," the voice-
less s soiind of "house" with the voiced z sound of "prays," and the
voiced V sound of "wave" with the voiceless f sound of "grief."
Not only the vertical patterning of consonance in the terminal
syllables of lines, but also the horizontal patterning of vowels and
consonants make "It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell" interesting in
the study of Thomas's development of auditory techniques. In one line,
for instance, explosives predominate:
Hear by death's accident the clocked and dashed-_down spires.
The poet accentuates the harsh, sharp effect of these thirteen explo-
sives by introducing the line with the imperative "Hear." The slow
tempo of the phrase "and dashed-down" stems in part from the device of
juxtaposing, at the end of one word and the beginning of the next word,
the same sound. The sheer physical necessity to pause and repeat the
explosive d retards the tempo of the end of the line. Through such
techniques Thomas helps sound reinforce sense, in this case the harsh,
insistent striking of the spire's clock.
In contrast to his use of sharp explosives is his use of
voiced continuants to produce a sensation of calm. Tne phrase "the
emerald, still bell" is an illustration. Each of the three occur-
rences of the 1 sound seems more sustained than the preceding one.
The melodic effect is also evident from the analysis of the patterns
of striking power and vowel tone, which are essentially parallel:
Stanza III, line 5, syllables iii-vii
"^^All the other occurrences of the phenomenon in the poem are
similar in retarding the rhythm and reinforcing the meaning of the
words: "dust-tongued," "Tiine marks," "mute turrets," and (except for
the difference between the unvoiced and voiced quality) "love's sinners."
"It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell," like "And death shall
have no dominion," demonstrates, in selected and individual lines,
contrasting sounds and meanings: staccato rhythms and compressed
meanings, and (less frequently) more sustained rhythms and simpler
"After the Funeral" ("In Memory of Ann Jones") is, according
to Thomas, the only poem he wrote directly about the life and death of
a particular person he knew. Thomas composed the poem in February,
1933, in a short form consisting of the first fifteen lines, ending
with: "Round the parched worlds of Wales and drowned each sun." He
later criticized this original version as "feeble"; in particular he
felt the ending was "too facile &, almost, grandiosely sentimental."
In March, 1938, he revised and greatly lengthened the poem. Even after
carefully reworking the poem, Thomas felt dissatisfied with it in cer-
tain respects. To Vernon Watkins he wrote: "I think there are some
good lines, but don't know abt the thing as a whole." And Theodore
See Quite Early One Morning (Norfolk, Conn., 1954), p. 174.
Rayner Heppenstall says — in The Four Absentees (London, 1960),
pp. 174-175 — that he substituted for Thomas in a lecture at Oxford when
Thomas gave the excuse that an aunt had died. Heppenstall suggests
that perhaps the funeral was that of Ann Jones. If, however, the lec-
ture date is 1949, the hypothesis is implausible, for the poem on Ann
Jones was written in 1933 and revised in 1958.
^^LW, p. 57.
^Ibid., p. 58.
Roethke remembers that Thomas thought the opening lines "creaked a bit"
and believed he had not worked hard enough on them.
Despite Thomas's doubts, "After the Funeral" is a brilliant —
though somevmat uncharacteristic — poem. It is an elegy for a little-
known but devout and "ancient peasant" woman whose death meant deso-
lation to the young boy from vmose point of view the poem is written.
The poem is one long paragraph of forty lines, each with ten, eleven,
or twelve syllables of which four, five, or sijc receive speech stresses.
The line-end words reveal no definite scheme, but occasional initial
sound similarities occur (as in "sleeves," "sleep," "leaves") and fre-
quent final consonantal similarities occur (as in "thick," "black";
"fern," "alone," "Ann"; "virtue," "statue"; "window," "hollow," to
present only a few) . Because of the nature of the line-end words and
because most of the lines are run-on, the lines flow relatively freely
from one to another.
Thomas's original fifteen-line version, the first of the two
main sections of the poem, is a description of Ann's burial. The open-
ing lines reflect the insincerity of the mourners' tributes, tears,
and hand-shaking: "mule praises, brays, / Windshake of sailshaped
ears. ..." Tne proximity of the near-rhyme in "praises, brays" — .
note the startling contrast in meaning — and of the alliteration and
assonance in "Windshake of sailshaped" helps create the desired effect
"Dylan Thomas: Memories and Appreciations," Engcunter, II
(January, 1954), 11,
^^LW, p. 58,
of the monotony of hypocritical funeral- formalities. The muffled
pegging down of the coffin is aptly described by the phrase "muffled-
toed tap / Tap happily," with its strong rhythm and its alliteration,
repetition, and rhyme. When these hollow, slightly comical sights
and sounds culminate in the final funeral ceremony of shovelling dirt
over the coffin ("smack[ing] . . . the spade that wakes up sleep"), the
boy suddenly realizes his great loss. Alone in Ann's room with its
stuffed fox and stale fern, he recalls Ann's humility and goodness.
In his loneliness he remembers her overflowing love, her
. . . hooded, fountain heart [wiich] once fell in puddles
Round the parched worlds of Wales and drowned each sun.
In parenthetical thoughts the narrator discharges himself of
any sentimentality in his tribute to Ann's infinite love, by criti-
izing it as "a monstrous image blindly / Magnified out of praise,"
idiich Ann would have considered pretentious and unnecessary.
Although Ann needs no priest of praise ("no druid"), the
narrator says he must sing of her virtues to diminish his own grief.
And lines 21-40 form the second portion of the poem, the boy's hom-
age to the deceased. Sound echoes become more frequent and obvious
in this part of the poem. For example, internal rhyme is closely
juxtaposed in "call all," "sing and swing," and "breast and blessed."
The poem becomes a hymnic — and "sculptured" because many of the conso-
nantal clusters produce abrupt, staccato effects — crescendo. The
narrator demands that Ann' s natural virtues be recognized in the
hymning heads, the woods, the chapel, and that her spirit be blessed
by a symbolic "four, crossing birds." Again the narrator mentions
Ann's meekness and excuses his praise (i.e., his "skyvard statue")
of her on the ground that otherwise his grief would be insufferable.
But his final efforts to depict her realistically only sculpture
I know her scrubbed and sour humble hands
Lie with religion in their cramp, her threadbare
¥nisper in a damp word, her wits drilled hollow.
Her fist of a face died clenched on a round pain.
These four lines — perhaps the best in the poem — reveal that such de-
vices as assonance ("scrubbed," "humble"), alliteration ("humble
hands"), and occasional rhyme ("cramp" "damp"), obvious as they are,
seem far less important than the contrapuntal imagery in the poem
(which refers to Ann as the actual peasant woman and as the monumental
figure the narrator envisions her) . And the poem concludes with the
fervent hope that Ann's virtues "storm" the narrator "forever," until
the stuffed fox comes alive with love and the stale fern lays seeds
on the windowsill.
"¥nen all my five and country senses see" is a quasi-sonnet
with ten-plus- four lines but without a prescribed rhyme scheme. Some
full rhyme does exist (in "eye," "by," "cry" and in "awake," "break"),
but more often the relationship between line-end words is less well-
defined (for instance, the final consonance in "mark," "zodiac").
^^See C. Day-Lewis's The Poetic Image , pp. 125-127, for a
discussion of the contrapuntal imagery in "Ifter the Funeral."
Yet, with two exceptions, the poem has ten syllables in each line and,
sonnet-like, its metrical pattern is iambic pentameter.
In the first ten lines, the poet presents his argument that
certain sensations belonging to one sense or mode attach to certain
sensations of another sense or mode. When all the five natural
("country") senses see, he says, they will become cross-modal and see
the destruction of their province of love. Thus the fingers will
forget their role in love and fertility and see how love is subser-
vient to time and death; the ears will see how love is drummed away in
discord; the tongue will see and lament that the "fond wounds" of love
are mended; the nostrils will see that the breath of love burns and is
consumed by its own fire. In the last four lines the poet presents
an emphatic conclusion. The heart, he believes, has agents in all the
provinces of love. These are emotional energies which will become
effective ("grope awake") when the five senses sleep or perish. The
heart, then, is sensual and knowing; even vixen all else fails, it can
rekindle man's responsiveness to the world about him.
A basic aspect of Thomas's thought seems revealed in this poem.
The five senses, Thomas believes, are elements that contribute to the
sovereign part of man— "ir^ one and noble heart," the repository of feel-
ing and knowledge. On this axiom Tnomas' s poetic theory seems to be
based, for sound and meaning in his poetry are both usually employed
to elicit from the reader an emotional—as opposed to an intellectual-
response. It is significant, perhaps, that this poem vdiich postulates
Thomas's fundamental concept of the importance of the sensual heart
contains few of Thomas's usual devices for auditory correlation. The
lack of internal arrangements of vowel and consonant sounds, for example,
is noteworthy. Probably Thomas realized that since he is writing
directly about the senses, it is more effective not to appeal to the
senses through elaborate auditory links.
Thomas's second poetic period extends from 193S to 1945, the
years of World War II. Nineteen hundred thirty-nine was not only
important to Thomas for the outbreak of the war, but also for the
birth (on January 30) of Llewelyn, his first child. Tnese two events
seem to have influenced significantly Thomas's poetic approach, for
both caused him to look beyond himself. As a result, Tnomas's poetry
of the war years is less subjective and more concerned with others
than is his earlier poetry. This concern for others is expressed in
three poems written at the close of his first poetic period: "I make
this in a warring absence" (a poem, written in November, 1937, to his
wife, Caitlin) ; "After the Funeral" (a poem, revised in March, 1938,
about a dead avmt) ; "A saint about to fall" (a poem, written in Octo-
ber, 1936, about Thomas's unborn son, Llewelyn). Between 1939 and 1945
Tnomas wrote poems about his son ("This Side of Truth — for Llewelyn")
and about victims of air raids ("Among those killed in the Dawn Raid
was a Man Aged a Hundred," "Ceremony After a Fire Raid," and "A Refusal
to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London") .
Even the war work in which Tnomas participated had beneficial
influences upon his poetry. As a script -tnriter for the British Broad-
casting Company, Thomas developed a sense of unity and of theme, which
he applied to his poetry. Unlike the "obscure" poetry of his first
poetic period, most of the later poetry of his second period is sustained
by a unifying mood or idea. Much of it is grave and formal ceremonial
or hymnic poetry ("There was a Saviour," "On the Marriage of a Virgin,"
"Ceremony After a Fire Raid," "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire,
of a Child in London" ) .
His war work influenced not only the theme, but also the rhythm
of the poetry. As a close observation of Thomas' s prose--especially
"A Child's Christmas in Wales"— will indicate conclusively, his prose
and poetry rhythms are essentially similar. Stephen Spender wrote in
1S46, after listening to Thomas read on the radio his childhood mem-
ories of Christmas, "I understood at once the patterns of his recent
poetry, which are essentially patterns of speech, the music of rhet-
oric." The poems of his second period loosen up rhythmically; the
numerous metrical irregularities contrast with the frequent tendencies
toward iambic in the earlier poems.
Thomas's second poetic period is fundamentally one of poetic
transition. The early poems of the period (e.g., "'If my head hurt
a hair's foot'") are similar to those of the first poetic period; the
very late poems of the period ("Poem in October," "Fern Hill," and
"In my Craft or Sullen Art") are similar to those of the third poetic
period. Yet the second period does have general characteristics of
its own. Primarily, it reveals the development toward a more expan-
sive, open-worked poetry, and it reveals part of the basis for this
development, the influence upon Thomas of his work during World War II
"Poetry for Poetry's Sake and Poetry Beyond Poetry," Horizon,
XIII (April, 1946), 254.
and of the birth of his first child.
The twelve poems analyzed in the following commentaries are
representative of the variety of poetry in Thomas's second, transi-
XI - "'If my head hurt a hair's foot'"
XII - "Once below a time"
XIII - "There was a Saviour"
XIV - "On the Marriage of a Virgin"
XV - "The Ballad of the Long-legged Bait"
XVI - "The Hiinchback in the Park"
XVII - "Ceremony After a Fire Raid"
XVIII - "Poem in October"
XIX - "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, •
of a Child in London"
XX - "A Winter's Tale"
XXI - "Fern Hill"
XXII - "In my Craft or Sullen Art"
"'If my head hurt a hair's foot'" is a dialogue between an
unborn child (who speaks in the first three stanzas) and its mother
(who speaks in the last three stanzas) . The form of the poem is
stanzaic, with five lines in each of the six stanzas. The syllabic,
metrical, and speech-stressed patterns are irregular. However, in
the first three stanzas the lines are generally shorter and yet usually
have more speech stresses than in the last three stanzas. In respect
to line-end word arrangement, the first three stanzas contain only
scattered assonance and final consonance, but the last three stanzas
contain instances of full rhyme ("bed," "head" and "cave," "grave")
and a concentration, in stanza VI, of final consonance ("grain,"
"return," "stone," "open").
With its arbitrary, verbal conceits and its obvious consonantal
patterns, the first part of "'If my head hurt a hair* s foot'" is remi-
niscent of Thomas's style in many of the poems of his early period.
The opening lines, for instance, have multiple occurrences of the
similar- sounding labial stops b and £:
"If hqt head hurt a hair's foot
Pack back the downed bone. If the unpricked ball of my breath
"Bump on a s£out let the bubbles jump out."
The bouncing alliterative bi_s in "back," "bone," "ball," "breath,"
"bump," "bubbles" are in initial positions. Tne £|_s in "unpricked,"
"bump," "spout," "jump" are in internal or final positions. Combined
with this cacophony of consonantal arrangement are the closely juxta-
posed internal rhymes in "Pack back," "Bump," "jump," and "spout,"
"out," and the approximate rhyme in "downed bone." To make the rhythm
even more abrupt, almost every word in these lines is a monosyllable.
The harsh staccato effect seems, then, to be carefully worked out.
But whether or not such an effect is appropriate here is another matter.
It is important to distinguish between sound patterns and poetic values
and not, as Henry Treece does, simply dismiss these opening lines as
a "humourless plethora of sound and deafness." Even Thomas was aware
of an unresolved problem in the lines; he wrote to Vernon Watkins,
"I haven't been able to alter the first part, & will have to leave it
^Dylan Tnomas; 'Dog Among the Fairies' (London, 1957), p. 83,
^LW, p. 60.
In the third stanza, the child in the womb makes a more effec-
tive plea to his mother than in the introductory lines. He makes the
startling suggestion that
"If my bunched, monkey , coming is cruel
Rage me back to the making house. ..."
Here sound correlates with meaning. For example, the repetition of
the explosive k sound ("monkey coming is cruel," "back," "making")
and the repetition of the A vowel followed by the nasal ra or n (in
"bunched monkey coming") creates a pronounced and insistent rhythm
which reinforces the implied situation of the new mother in labor.
In the second section of the poem, the mother expresses her
awareness that the anguish she and her child must experience in life
is inescapable and comments that once life begins, suffering must be
endured. In contrast to the child's staccato speech, the mother's
speech is relatively flowing. Whereas the child often uses consecu-
tively stressed monosyllables with short vowels (such as "Peck, sprint,
dance"), the mother uses few accumulations of stresses and thus creates
a looser rhythm; whereas the child uses compressed, obvious consonan-
tal arrangements, the mother uses expanded, echoic consonantal arrange-
ments. Among the most subtle auditory links in the second section of
the poem is the repetition, in stanza V, of the same long vowel or
diphthong in a stressed position both near the beginniJig and near the
end of a line:
"Now to awake husked of gestures and my joy like a cave
my lost love bounced from a good home;
The grain that hurries this way from the rim of the grave^
Has a vcir-e and a house, and there and here you must couch
This artistic device is echoed and intensified in the final stanza,
where the words are linked not simply by assonance, but (as in "grain"
and "grave" in stanza V) by approximate rhyme:
"Through the waves of the fat streets nor the skeleton's thin ways."
The stylistic contrast between the two sections of the poem— the more
staccato first section and the more legato second section— helps to set
in relief the child's and mother's attitude toward life. In the final
analysis, that attitude is (as Thomas phrased it) the "unreconciled
acceptance of suffering.""^ This idea Thomas attempted to indicate in
the final line, which he originally vn'ote as
"And the endless tremendous beginning suffers open."
He felt deep concern for this line— "Is the last line too bad, too
comic, or does it just work?"— and asked Vernon Watkins for criticism,
especially of the adjective.^ A few weeks later Thomas had, appar-
ently to his satisfaction, reworked the line to
"And the endless beginning of prodigies suffers open."
Tnomas's revision is illuminating. Although only the central portion
of the line was altered, the effect is considerably changed. In the
original version, internal rhyming of syllables ("end-" and "-mind-,"
"tre-" and "be-") weakens the line with a slightly sing-song effect.^
' ^uite Early One Morning (Norfolk, Conn., 1954), p. 129,
^LW , p. 58.
That Thomas was acutely conscious of such weak internal rhymes
is illustrated in a letter to Vernon v;atkins in which Thomas chooses
"formed" instead of "made" (in the following lines from "There was a
Saviour") to avoid "the too-pretty internal rhyme of 'laidi & >made>
[which] . . . stops the too-easy flow, or thin conceited stream":
And laid your cheek against a cloud-formed shell,
(LW, p. 83)
In the final version the word "tremendous" (which is responsible for
the internal rhymes and, in addition, is an overworked word in the
English vocabulary) has been deleted. Although the new line has only
one more syllable than the original, the meter is now a strong, almost
regvilar anapest. The new word, "prodigies," deepens the meaning of
the entire poem; for its associations with wonders and marvels conclude
the poem on a note of awe, if not of hope.
"Once below a time" describes the poet*s attitude toward the
human situation, with particular reference to his poetic career. As
a poet past his prime (i.e., "now shown and mostly bare"), the persona
reflects on his pre-natal existence, childhood, and early creative life.
Part I consists of two paragraphs, one of twelve lines, the
other of sixteen lines. The number of syllables in the lines varies
(in no regular pattern) from five to twelve. The first paragraph
describes the poet in his pre-natal existence of
. . . pinned-around- the- spirit
Cut-to-measure flesh bit,
Suit for a serial sum.
The short lines, short vowels, clipped explosives, and predominant
trochaic meter create an effect of the staccato, pulsating tempo of
new life. The line-end word arrangements reinforce this impression,
for most of the related line-end words of the first paragraph end in
final consonance of explosives: "spirit," "fleshbit," "jacket,"
"ashpit." The second paragraph, continuing the tour de force style.
celebrates the poet's birth. The poet sees his early self as violent
and somewhat arrogant and deceitful. From the beginning, the poet
says, he adopted lavish disguises, even though he was actually robed
in "common clay clothes." (The harsh alliterative k' s stick together
as clay itself does.) In this paragraph the proximity of diverse
auditory effects suggests the protean aspects of childhood. For exam-
ple, " Hopp ing hot leaved," with its initial consonance of a spirant,
its assonance, and its use of explosives (p,t,d) creates a clipped
rhythm; sound and meaning here suggest the child in action. Two lines
later, "the chill, silent centre," with its repetition of the contin-
uant 1, its alliteration of the sibilant _s, and its approximate rhyme
in "s ilent cen tre" creates the impression of stillness; sound and mean-
ing here suggest the child in quiet thought. As an imaginative and
ambitious child, the boy "rocketed to astonish" not just V/ales, but
the world itself with his exciting, unrestrained poetic language.
Part II consists of three paragraphs with, respectively, six,
six, and eleven lines. The line-end word arrangement is irregular,
but does contain several instances of full rhyme: "rotten," "cotton"
(which are close together, but in different paragraphs and help link
together the first two paragraphs); "head," "thread," "bed"; "stone,"
"bone," (and the near-rhyme "down"). In this section the poem is less
flamboyant and more sustained and bardic in tone. The mature poet
sees his early scales and mask pierced through to reveal
. . . the boy of common thread.
The bright pretender, the ridiculous sea dandy
who, like all mortals, is simply "dry flesh and earth." Now, although
the poet criticizes his immature self, he feels nostalgic toward the
lost innocence of childhood when he felt firmly convinced of the
triumph of his poetry, when he felt he "Never never oh never [would]
. . . regret the bugle [he] . . . wore." Abruptly, the tone shifts,
and the final three lines are markedly calm. Thomas here reveals the
persona from which the poem has been written. The mature poet is
resigned, humbled, and saddened:
Now shown and mostly bare I would lie down.
Lie down, lie down and live
As quiet as a bone.
Originally the poet's childhood attitude was expressed by the line
"I do not regret the bugle I wore." Thomas revised the line to
Never never oh never to regret the bugle I wore,
so that "the repetition, the pacific repetition, of 'I would lie down,
lie down, lie down and live' is loudly and swingingly balanced."
In the last three lines, the extensive use of voiced contin-
uants (e.g., the n of "Now, shown," "down," "bone" and the 1 of
"mostly," "lie," and "live") and the repetition of long vowels (e.g.,
the of "shown," "mostly," "bone" and the ai of "I," "lie," "quiet")
contribute to the lyrical effect of the concluding passage. This
lyricism differs sharply from the staccato effects of many of the
earlier portions of the poem; thus the contrast in sound patterns
reinforces the contrast in meaning between the attitudes of the imma-
ture and the mature poet. Thomas's reading of this poem (on tape at
"^LW, pp. 79-80,
the University of Florida) further points up this contrast between the
optimism of childhood and the resignation of later life, for he reads
most of the poem loudly and energetically, but these final lines, very
quietly and evenly till the word "bone" resounds hollowly.
Although Thomas usually experiments with an original stanzaic
pattern (and seldom uses that pattern twice), "rnere was a Saviour" is
a lyrical poem based on the stanza of Milton's "On the Morning of
Christ's Nativity."® But Thomas's stanzaic form is considerably shorter
and looser than Milton's. "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" con-
tains a four-stanza Invocation— with seven lines to a stanza and the
rhyme scheme of ababbcc — which has no equivalent in "There was a Sav-
iour." It is "The Hymn" (the body) of the poem on which Thomas pat-
terned his piece. Milton's twenty-seven stanzas contain eight lines
each and use a syllabic pattern— sometimes slightly varied— of 6 6 10
6 6 10 8 12. rnomas's pattern in "There was a Saviour" is quite
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 6 6 11 6 6 10 9 11
II 6 6 11 6 6 10 10 12
III 6 7 11 6 8 11 10 13
IV 6 6 10 6 6 10 10 12
V 6 6 10 6 6 10 9 12
®In writing to Vernon Watkins, Thomas referred to "There was a
Saviour" as his "austere poem in Milton measure." (LVW, p. 82.) It is
perhaps noteworthy that Kathleen Raine says she has been told that
In respect to line-end rhyme, Milton's scheme is aabccbdd . Thomas uses
the same scheme, but instead of full rhyme he employs assonance in the
final syllables. With two exceptions ("Saviour," "radium," and "year,"
"neighbor") the assonance is perfectly regular throughout the poem.
Certainly Thomas's and Hilton's poems bear little resemblance
other than in general stanzaic form. The setting for the "Nativity
Ode" is the "happy morn" of Christ's birth, and the mood is deeply
reverent; the setting for "There was a Saviour" is the present age of
science, doubt, and sin, and the emphasis in the poem is on "There was
Throughout his poetry Tnomas frequently employs striking intro-
ductory phrases. Sometimes these revolve around a paradox such as
"Friend by enemy I call you out" and "Light breaks where no sun shines,"
or a revitalized familiar phrase, such as "A grief ago" and "Once below
a time." None is, however, more arresting or utilizes more appropriate
artistic devices than
There was a Saviour
Rarer than radium
Commoner than water, crueller than truth,
which is a network of alliteration and assonance. The r sound is found
in most of the important words of the passage. In the third line, the
k sound lends emphasis to the words "Commoner" and "crueller." Such
euphony of consonants is complemented by the euphony of vowels. The
line-end word relationship between "Saviour" and "radium" is partic-
ularly interesting because it is a tri-s;/llabic near- rhyme. This,
Milton's "Nativity Ode" was Thomas's favorite poem. ("Dylan Thomas,"
New Statesman and Nation , XL VI [November 14, 1S53], 594.)
in addition to the internal rhyme in "There," "rarer" strongly inten-
sifies the echo effect. That Thomas was conscious of subtle internal
patterns of sound is evident from his comment on the internal pattern
of consonance in stanza I, lines 1 and 2. Of the passage
Two proud, blacked brothers cry,
VJinter-locked side by side,
he said: "I like the word 'blacked' ... in spite of its, in the con-
text, jarring dissonance with 'locked.'"
"There was a Saviour," in its looser stanzaic form, more subtle
artistic devices, and relatively lyrical mood approaches Thomas's style
in his third poetic period. It is the meaning in this poem which, in
its general compression, links "Tnere was a Saviour" to Thomas's early
period. The poet seems to say that Christ is available to men of true
humility but that most of us crucified Christ and now cry in the dark
. . . for the little known fall,
For the dropping of homes
That did not nurse our bones
Brave deaths of only ones but never found.
Concluding hopefully, the poet suggests that, through the terrible
realization of our sins, we may see
Exiled in us . . . the soft.
Unclenched, armless, silk and rough love that breaks all rocks.
^LW, p. 82.
"On the Marriage of a Virgin" is a fourteen-line poem origi-
nally written in 1933, but revised and first published in 1941. Inter-
pretations of the poem vary. David Daiches and Derek Stanford believe
the poem contrasts the state of virginity with the state of marriage;
S. F. Johnson believes it contrasts supernatural and physical, human
love; Bernard Kneiger believes it describes the conception of the
birth of Christ. Whatever the specific meaning, the theme of the poem-
like that of many of Thomas's prose tales— concerns something which can
never again be recaptured and implies a contrast between the past and
the present. It is not impossible that in this poem Thomas intended
that the exact nature of the contrast be ambiguous and thus generalized.
Throughout, the poem is stately in rhythm, resonant in tone,
and solemn in mood. In part, the majestic but melancholy quality stems
from the use of the long vowel o, iriiich occurs in sixteen per cent of
the speech-stressed syllables: "alone," "morning," "opening,"
"golden," "old," "loaves," "moment," "alone," "golden ghost," "bone,"
"golden," and 'boursing." The frequency of this vowel is particularly
impressive since, according to Godfrey Dewey, the o vowel in normal
speech represents only 1.6 per cent of the vowels and consonants.
Two other vowels in "On the Marriage of a Virgin" each form 15 per cent
of the speech-stressed syllables: ai and a_. Three vowels, then, form
nearly half the vowels in the speech-stressed syllables. Because of
the predominance of the vowel sounds, the avoidance of harsh conso-
nantal clusters, and the use of voiced continuants (primarily 1> £J> £) ,
the rhythm is flowing and sustained. The even cadence is, signif-
icantly, seldom interrupted by words of high striking power; of all
the poems under consideration, "On the Marriage of a Virgin" has pro-
portionately the fewest words of high striking power (one out of every
eighteen words) .
Although the poem has fourteen lines, it has little else of
prosodic structure in common with a conventional sonnet. The organi-
zation is two seven- line stanzas, the syllabic pattern is irregular —
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 15 12 13 12 16 15 16
II 14 12 13 15 16 14 15
— and the metrical pattern is varied. Further, the poem lacks a rhyme
pattern characteristic of the sonnet. In fact, the only full rhyme
occurs in lines 2 and 4 of each stanza: "eyes," "thighs"; "alone,"
"bone." The other line-end words are linked, in no regular scheme,
mainly by assonance or by final consonance.
"On the Marriage of a Virgin" is one of Thomas's first poems
entirely in a sustained legato rhythm. The serious treatment of the
theme, the provocative imagery, and the stately rhythm (influenced
mainly by careful combinations of low or middle vowels with voiced
continuants) make the poem consistently majestic and solemn in both
sound and meaning.
In respect to its poetic value, probably the most controversial
of Thomas's poems is his longest one, "The Ballad of the Long-legged
Bait." On the one hand, Henry Treece condemns its length (fifty- four
stanzas of four lines each) as "tiring" and its total effect as "little
more than a technical exercise.""^ On the other hand, Elder Olson
considers the poem one of Thomas's best. The true evaluation of the
poem almost certainly lies between these extremes. But it is undeni-
able that the poem contains characteristics of Thomas's best and most
Of all Thomas's works, "Tne Ballad of the Long-legged Bait" is
most enhanced by Thomas's reading of it. The reader of the printed
page bogs down in the long and complicated allegory,- the listener to
Thomas's reading soars into a new world of words. Because "The Ballad
of the Long-legged Bait" is a poem of music with an intensely personal
vision, the sound and emotional contexts of the words are usually
effective only when the poem is heard. In describing this poem, Thomas
might have echoed Hamlet, "rne word's the thing." It is a fact that
he told Alastair Reid that "When I experience anything, I experience it
as a thing and a word at the same time, both equally amazing.""'"^ With
respect to "The Ballad of the Long-legged Bait," Thomas was especially
-^ ^lylan Thomas: ' Dog Among the Fairies, ' p. 97.
-^^See The Poetry of Dylan Thomas (Chicago, 1954), p. 24,
1^"A First Word," Yale Literary Magazine , CXXII (November, 1954)
Reprinted in John Malcolm Brinnin, A Caseboo k on Dylan Thomas (New York,
1960), p. 255.
conscious of words: he said the writing of the poem was "like carry-
ing a huge armful of words to a table he thought was upstairs and
wondering if he could reach it in time, or if it would still be
there . "
The structure of "The Ballad of the Long-legged Bait" is a
loose ballad stanza. The poem always has four lines to a stanza, but
the stresses are not often in the regular ballad meter of 4 3 4 _3.
Further, the typical ballad handles casually an abcb rhyme scheme,
but in Thomas's poem the line-end word relationships vary and the pat-
tern of relationship is also flexible. Only in one-third of the stan-
zas is the pattern of relationship abcb . In about 40 per cent of the
stanzas the pattern is abab; in about 28 per cent of the stanzas other
patterns occur. The type of line-end word relationship runs the gamut
from no similar sounds to eye rhyme and full rhyme. No similarity
in sound occurs in ZO per cent of the paired line-end words; some
degree of final consonance appears in over 50 per cent; full rhyme
occurs in about 15 per cent; other line-end word relationships occur
in about 15 per cent. The progression in the poem is from an acciiimi-
lation of more obvious relationships — for instance, in the first third
of the poem half the full rhymes occur— to less obvious and more com-
plex echoes. Such a progression in the sound structure is fitting
for a poem whose meaning glides from an apparently simple ballad style
to an increasingly complex allegorical style.
Analysis reveals that the rich, seemingly spontaneous overflow
of evocative and musically haunting words in the poem results largely
from numerous and involved internal vowel and consonant patterns.
Although these patterns permeate "The Ballad of the Long-legged Bait,"
they seem concentrated in the passages of greatest importance to the
meaning of the allegory. The following discussion will attempt to
relate the sound and meaning of several of these passages.
With a hooked bride as bait, a fisherman sails away from the
land. Thinking that he is escaping the monotonous commonplaceness of
life, he is oblivious even to religious portents and is concerned only
with his adventure in sexuality.
Good-bye to chimneys and funnels,
Old wives that spin in the smoke,
He was blind to the eyes of candles
In the praying windows of waves
But heard his bait buck in the wake
And tussle in a shoal of loves.
The first four lines contain vertical echoes ("chim-," "spin in," and
"win-"), assonance ("-bye," "wives," "blind," and "eyes"; "pray-" and
"waves"), and approximate rhyme ("wives," "waves"). The flowing rhythm
contrasts sharply with the bucking rhythm of the opening line of the
succeeding stanza. Several elements contribute to the clipped, jerky
effect of this line: the series of eight short monosyllables, the
presence of numerous explosives (b, t, d, and k) , and the patterned
interlocking of the dominant consonants and vowels. The line "And
tussle in a shoal of loves," with its prominent continuants (s and l) ,
provides a marked contrast to the previous line. It contains only one
explosive (the t, which occurs early in the line), and its unvoiced
sounds disappear toward the end. Thus the sounds of these lines grad-
ually soften, till the conclusion itself is quite fluid.
After the fisherman has cast his long-legged bait as a symbolic
sacrifice to a watery grave, the sympathetic creatures of the world
Sing and howl through sand and anemone
Valley and sahara in a shell,
Oh all the wanting flesh his enemy
Thrown to the sea in the shell of a girl.
The ringing quality of the lines can be attributed to such phenomena as
the voiced consonants (l, m, n, r) , the alliteration of the _s sound
("sing," "sand," "sahara," and "sea"), the internal rhyme ("sand" and
three occurrences of "and") . But the most subtle sound effect in this
haunting stanza is the tantalizingly approximate rhyme of "anemone" and
Through the death of the girl, the fisherman is freed from
erotic dreams of "Mast-high moon-white women naked / Walking in wishes
and lovely for shame" and from actual sins of the flesh. But, since he
has cast his bait, he must wind the reel. He does so "VJith no more
desire than a ghost." (The long, melancholy o' s seem to emphasize his
slowness and reluctance.) Hauling in the unwelcome catch, the fisher-
man discovers a child, for "Time [has born] . . . another son." He
realizes that, ironically enough, he has not escaped the monotonous
commonplaceness of physical existence, but is inextricably involved in
the cycle of birth and death. For the first time, he begins to under-
stand that both the cause and the result of his passion is the inescap-
From stanza XL on, Thomas universalizes the fisherman' s problem
of a quest for experience above and beyond the physical. The stanzas
skillfully evoke images of disparate civilizations and eras. Worksheets
for "The Ballad of the Long-legged Bait" indicate that Thomas con-
sciously merged time and space, ages and places, because the manuscript
shows he made specific notations to hijnself of "times and places"— a
phrase he actually uses in stanza XLIV— and of "history dirge." His
successful fusion of contrasting images is perhaps best illustrated in
the resounding line
Rome and Sodom To-morrow and London.
As the poem itself reveals, Thomas intended this line to suggest both
Sodom and Gomorrah. Since the narrative in Genesis 18 is well known,
Thomas follows "Sodom" by the meaningful rhyme for "Gomorrah," "To-
morrow." Thus the word "To-morrow" links the past to the future through
denotation and verbal association. Euphonious and soaring, the line is
complex in its inter-locking auditory arrangements. Two vowel sounds
are used two and three times, respectively, within the line: j^ in
"and," "and"; o in "0 Rome," "To-morrow." Tne predominant consonantal
patterns are voiced continuants: r and 1 for initial sounds in syllables,
m and n for terminal sounds in syllables:
Rome and Sodom To-morrow and London,
Such facets of Thomas' s technique in these lines help to make it rever-
berate with sound and meaning.
In the closing lines, the fisherman returns home, only to find
I'^Lita Homick, The Intricate Image: A Study of Bylan Thomas .
Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (.Columbia University, 1258), p. 213.
. . . lost on the land.
He stands alone at the door of his home,
With his long-legged heart in his hand.
Through his experience, the fisherman gained a cosmic insight and
a private conscience. Now, though he is "lost on the land," he has
been redeemed through his bride* s sacrifice.
"The Hunchback in the Park," originally written in 1932, was
not published until 1941. Like "The hand that signed the paper" (first
composed in 1933), this poem is distinguished by its objectivity and
clarity." But "The Hunchback in the Park" is, for Thomas, remarkable
too in its direct narrative basis.
The structure of the poem is seven stanzas of six lines each
with a rather irregular syllabic pattern:
Number of Syllables
in Each Line
6 7 7 10 9 10
8 8 8 11 R 7
8 7 8 7 9 4
6 8 6 9 6 7
6 8 8 9 8 8
7 8 5 8 7 6
7 9 8 11 6 7
Like the syllabic pattern, the speech-stress pattern is irregular; yet
the two do not r\in exactly parallel. Many lines are fairly regular
iambic verse; others have truncated or inverted beginnings with, some-
times, anapestic measures within the line. Occasionally — as in
stanza II, lines 6 and 7 — the stress pattern is common ballad meter.
But such a regular pattern is seldom sustained. The beginnings of
certain lines deserve special comment. Stanzas II, III, and IV are
linked by several syntactical repetitions in initial positions. That
is, present participles open several lines: "Eating," "Drinking,"
"Running," "Laughing," and "Dodging." The emphasis on these words is
increased by their initial position, by their similar meter (usually ,
trochaic), and by their acciimulative effect.
The relationships of final words in the lines of the poem vary.
Five stanzas have one instance each of full rhyme: in stanza I, "cup"
and "up"; in stanza III, "down" and "town"; in stanza IV, "rockery"
and "mockery"; in stanzas I and VII — binding the beginning and end of
the poem together — "park" and "dark." Other line-end words are approx-
imate rhymes: "lock" with "park" and "dark"; "early" and "clearly"; and
the very arresting off- rhyme "shrubberies" and "strawberries." Most of -
the other words are related by final consonance.^
Coming early, when the park is opened, and staying late, till '
it is closed, a solitary hunchback seeks to enioy the natural beauty
of the gardens. The melancholy calmness the hunchback experiences in
the park is reflected in the frequency (in stressed positions in the
stanza) of the dark, open vowels a and o : "park," "solitary," "propped,"
"garden," "lock," "sombre," and "dark." In the park he feels as one
with the birds, the trees, and the water, until the taunts and mimicry
of the town boys interrupt his musings. The following lines show how
the natural, subtle rhythm of the poem corresponds to the meaning.
The deformed man, teased and chased by the boys, begins
Running when he had heard them clearly
On out of sound.
The smooth, fast-moving tempo of the first line is created mainly by
the quality of the consonants — most of the important consonants are
voiced continuants—and by the ratio of unstressed to stressed speech
syllables (2:1). The rhythm, like the boys and the hunchback, runs
swiftly on. In the second line--the shortest in the poem— the heavily
stressed first s^/llable ("On") is followed by the assonantal echo of
"out" and "sound." Here the ratio of unstressed to stressed speech
syllables is 1:4, and the rhythm seems to signify the stressed foot-
falls, which fade away like echoes.
Dodging the park keeper and threading his lonely way among the
nurses and swans of the park, he creates a fantasy image of a young
woman who is tall and straight as the trees and vAo is free to remain
always among the beauties of the park. Tne hunchback's daydream is
first described by the quiet, slow, and lyrical music of the passage
Made all day until bell time
A woman figure without fault.
In the first line, the long, lonely day of dreaming is suggested by
the slow rhythm of five speech-stressed syllables out of seven syllables,
by the long vowels (e, ai) , and by the patterned consonants which empha-
size the voiced continuant 1:
Made all day until bell time.
And the second line is tightly organised in its cross-alliteration of
w, f, w, f sounds: "A woman figure without fault." The dominant 1
sound of the opening line — which is associated with the hunchback' s
dream — is echoed later in this stanza ("elm," "tall," "locks") and
in the final stanza ("All," "railings," "lake," "wild," "followed,"
"kennel") . The perfectly formed woman is, however, only a vision,
an ideal counterpart for the man's crooked shape. And in the final
line of the poem the continuant 1, like the vision itself, fades away..
Reality closes in, as the park shuts the hunchback out and the boys j
chase him to his kennel abode. The harshness of real life seems
enhanced by the frequent use of the explosive k in "hunchback,"
"kennel," and "dark."
Throughout the poem, the idea of the restless wandering of ,
the hunchback is supported by the long, meandering poetic statements
which continue through several lines and even several stanzas.
Internally, not a single punctuation mark interrupts the rhythmic flow
of the poem. Stanzas I, II, V, and VI have no punctuated pauses at
all; stanzas II, IV, and VII have, respectively, only a period at the
end of the last line of the stanza.
The h\inchback' s solitary, miserable plight is presented starkly
and quietly, but insistently, and the poem is devoid of sentimentality
and flamboyant tone. Moreover, the contrasting sound patterns seem to
highlight the fundamental difference between the hunchback' s ideal and
"Ceremony After a Fire Raid" is a melodic dirge (for a newborn
infant who was "burned to tireless death" in a fire raid) and a ritual-
istic celebration of renewal of life. The form of the poem, although
loose, has, within each of the first two parts — the third part has
only one section—, a relatively regular syllabic count:
Stanza Number of Syllables in Each Line
Part I I 2319658 10
II 2 3 1 10 7 5 8 12
III 2 3 - 10 7 5 8 11
IV 281 9768 11
Part II I 5 11564759585S67
II 5 12 664758586967
The expanding form of the entire poem compares roughly to musical cre-
scendos, A glance at the printed text of the poem makes that state-
ment obvious. For in the first part each stanza begins with lines of
a few syllables and builds up to a line of ten to tvrelve syllables;
in the second part the lines of each stanza are longer than most of
those in the first part; in the third part the lines are longer than
most of those in the second part.
As an opening phrase, "Jfyselves / The grievers / Grieve" is
singularly arresting. The coinage "Myselves" immediately binds the
reader, Tnomas, and other grievers together in a communal yet deeply
personal lament for an innocent child's death. Part of the musical
effectiveness of the phrase can be explained by the fact that the
graphs of the striking power, vowel tone, and pitch are parallel:
Each stanza in part I opens with two or three short lines that
include a repetition of a key word in the thematic development of that
stanza: "grieve" (stanza I), "sing" (stanza II), "forgive" (stanza
III), "cry" (stanza IV). It is interesting to note that when the word
is repeated, it is also varied by slightly altering its form or by
changing its metrical position in the line. For example, in stanza III
the first line is the single word "Forgive," and the speech stress is
iambic; the same word is repeated in the second line, "Us forgive,"
but the speech stress now is the converse of an amphibrach. (This
stress pattern is the more meaningful since the first two lines of
stanzas I, II, and IV are an iamb followed by an amphibrach.) Because
the word "Us" is stressed and is in an initial position in both lines
2 and 3, the reader's involvement in the "ceremony" is secured. The
conclusion of line 3 of this stanza forms an ingenious link with the
poem' s opening lines, in that "myselves the believers" echoes the
earlier "Myselves / The grievers." Such echoes unify and intensify
the poem's strong musical qualities.
Neither grieving nor singing, though — the poem asserts — can
bring life out of death. And even if a miracle could do so, the "Dark-
ness kindled back into beginning" would not atone for the child's
death. All tha:t can now be done is to beg the child's forgiveness of
the sin committed against it and to believe that "Love is the last
light spoken." Part II deepens the sacrificial aspect of the child's
death, tmich was suggested early in the poem with the symbolism of the
child's "arms full of fires." The child's burning is, in the second
part, associated with all deaths and sacrificial ceremonies since Adam
and Lve. And the idyllic, ancient garden of Eden is contrasted with
the sinful, modern "garden of wilderness," in which "Beginning crumbled
back to darkness." Not only is this line forceful in its repetition
of the explosive b sound and its approximate rhyme of "back" and
"dark-," but it is also meaningful in its inversion of the prayerful
chant of the mourners in stanza II: "Darkness kindled back into
beginning." Moreover, the verb in each line, though different in mean-
ing, is similar in sound ("kindled" and "crumbled"). The subtle rela-
tionship of these lines and their overtones of Genesis 1:1-5 make it
clear that Thomas probably intended a double and implied antithesis of
light and darkness, of beginning and end, in each line. Tnus the
symbolism of life and death is underscored.
In commenting on the poem to Vernon Watkins, Thomas said, "It
really is a Ceremony, and the third part of the poem is the music at
the end. Would it be called a voluntary, or is that only music at
the beginning?" His query about a voluntary— which is especially
associated vri.th an organ solo in a church service— and the reference
in the first line of part III to "organpipes" lead one to suspect that
Thomas consciously vrrote this stanza as a poetry of full organ tones.
The sheer evocativeness of this passage, particularly when spoken aloud,
is hardly matched in contemporary literature. The alliterative phrases
at the ends of the lines are very impressive: "molten mouths," "ditch
of daybreak," "burning like brandy." The entire stanza does seem to be
one uninterrupted organ postlude, hinting- -through the allusions to the
bread and wine of Holy Communion-- at purification and redemption for
all, through the child's sacrifice. The finale is climaxed by the hope
that man can
Erupt, fountain, and enter to utter for ever
Glory glory glory
The sundering ultimate kingdom of genesis' thunder.
With its five occurrences of the explosive t sound, the first line is
extremely expressive and forceful. The concluding phrase, "enter to
utter for ever," sets in relief the five explosives, because all the
stressed words begin with a vowel. Further, the three instances of
vrords ending in the final -er sound ("enter," "utter," "for ever")
evoke the idea of repetition. In the second line the resounding
"Glory glory glory" corresponds to the "Holy holy holy" of the Christian
church service. Like those of the phrase "and enter to utter for ever,"
-^^Consider, for example, other words with final -er sounds
wiich indicate repetition: "jabber," "chatter," "whisperT^ "clatter,"
"mutter," "sputter," "flicker," "shimmer," etc.
the speech stresses of the final line are in perfectly regular amphi-
brachs. The suggestions of infinite repetitions (in the -er sound of
"siinder-" and "thunder") and the assonance of the solid _a_ sound (in
"siindering ultimate" and "thunder") contribute to the powerful, majes-
tic organ chords of the line. The rhyme, which is both internal and
line-end— "The masses of the sea under " and "The sunder ing . . . thun-
der"~help make the concluding passage one long, glorious reverber-
ation. Thus a dirge for a newborn infant has resolved magnificently
into a paean of hope for
The simdering ultimate kingdom of genesis' thunder.
Over a span of twelve years, Thomas wrote three poems cele-
brating, respectively, his twenty- fourth, thirtieth, and thirty-fifth
birthdays: "Twenty- four years remind the tears of ray eyes," "Poem in
October," and "Poem on his Birthday," The first poem is representative
of Thomas's best poetry in his first poetic period, the second in his
second poetic period, and the third in his third poetic period.
"Poem in October" is an elegiac reminiscence of the lost inno-
cence and joy of childhood. Appropriately enough, the stanzas are
long and complex, usually consisting of a single sentence; this form
corresponds to the leisurely drift of a reverie of the past. There are
■""^f a recording of Thomas reading "Twenty-four years" had been
available, a comparative study would have been made of the three birth-
day poems as representatives of tneir respective poetic periods.
seven stanzas of ten lines each. The poem is, moreover, beautifully
patterned in its syllabic line:
Stanza Number of Syllables in Each Line
I 10 12 9 3 5 12 12 5 3 9
II ~9 12 9 3 5 12 12 5 3 9
III S 12 9 3 5 12 12 5 3 9
IV 9 12 9 3 5 12 12 5 3 9
V 9 12 9 3 5 12 12 5 3 9
VI 9 12 9 3 5 13 12 5 3 9
VII 9 12 9 3 6 TS 12 5 3 9
The pattern of speech stresses is varied. One aspect of the
pattern should, however, be discussed. The line-end words form a
special rhythmic pattern. In the following table, m represents the
masculine line-end words, f represents the feminine line-end words,
and d represents the dactylic line-end words.
stanza Rhythm of the Line-end Words
The initial and final assonance and the simlar rhythm of the three
dactylic line-end words in stanza III closely bind them together:
l^Ralph N. Maud shows— in Language and Meaning i^J^^e Poetry
of Dylan Thomas, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation Uiarvard University, _
1C58T — p. 151--the syllabic count to reveal only one irregularity [tne
one iA stanza VI). But since Thomas pronounces the word "thirtietn"
on the recording as three rather than two syllables, there is also an
irregularity in stanzas I and VII, where that word occurs.
l%ote that when the line-end word is not heavily stressed—
as in line 10, stanza III and in line 9, stanza V— the final phrase
is taken into consideration in order to determine tne rnytnm.
In line 10, stanza VI, the line-end word, "singmgbirds,
hovers between masculine and dactylic rhythm, but Thomas' s reading
does slightly accent the final syllable and thus makes tne word
"Suitimery," "suddenly," and "under me." The entire stanza seems espe-
cially light and airy, because— in contrast to the comparatively heavy
masculine line-end words which dominate the first two stanzas — the line-
end words, with one exception, are all fluid feminine or dactylic words.
For three years before he finished it, Thomas contemplated
"Poem in October." VJhen he mailed a copy to Vernon V/atkins he said,
"I do hope you like it, & wd like very much to read it aloud to you.
VJill you read it aloud too? It's got, I think, a lovely slow lyrical
movement." Thomas was right. The poem demands oral reading. And,
fortunately, a superb reading by Thomas is preserved on a commercial
recording. Listening to it, one can best realize the slow, lyrical
rhythm vmich Thomas achieved in the poem.
In the airy opening stanza to "Poem in October" —
It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Moke to my hearing from harbour and neighbor wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
The morning beckon
VJith water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
In the still sleeping town and set forth.
— the poet is enveloped in the sights and sounds of the October day,
which are described in an inimitable word magic. Witness the subtle,
interlocking repetitions in the line
l^LW, pp. 115-116.
or the net of auditory arrangements in "net webbed wall." In the line-
end viords of four of the ten lines, the intricate sound relationships
reflect more than simple assonance: "heaven" and "heron" are identical
in all except the medial consonant; "heron" and "beckon" are identical
in all except the initial and medial consonants; "beckon" and "second"
are identical except for the initial and final consonants. Notice also
the internal full rhymes ("year," "hear-" and "net," "set") and approx-
imate rhymes ("call," "-gull" and "rook," "knock") and assonance ("wood,"
"rook," and "foot").
Rising early on the rainy autumn morning of his thirtieth birth-
day, the poet sets out on a walk "in a shower of all my days" (in a
reverie of his past) . The gates of the present close behind him as he
crosses the border into the past:
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.
The musical effect of the opening phrase in ingenious. In addition to
the assonance of the ai sound in "High," "tide," and "dived," there is
consonance in "High" and "heron," "ti^e" and "dived," And the last
three lines — echoing the earlier assonance of "water," "horses," "rose,"
and "road" — close the passage slowly, because of the concentrated accu-
mulations of the long vowel o in "Over," "border," "closed," and
" awoke . "
In stanzas III and IV the poet ascends the summit of happy
childhood memories, -ymere the October weather has, in his imagination,
turned to the summer of sun and rolling clouds, of birds and blooming
gardens. Yet below him remains the brown and autumnal present, with
. . . the rain wringing
Wind blow[ing] cold
In the wood faraway under me.
The phrase "rain wringing / Wind" is saturated with phonetic echoes:
the alliteration of the continuant r ("rain wringing"); the frequency
of the nasals n and ("rain wringing / VJind"); the internal rhyme
("-inging"); the assonance of the clear vowel x ("\^inging / VJind") .
Tiie impression here of a gentle, oven patter of an autumnal shower is
created by the repeated use of the short, clear vowel i. In striking
contrast is the phrase which follows it, "blow cold," with its repeti-
tion of the prolongable, dark vowel o. Combined with the use of the
explosive b and k sounds, this phrase correlates with the idea of cold
gusts of wind .
As the poet muses, his reverie seems for the moment to become
reality. For the "weather turned around," and he is able once again
to feel "the other air" and to see "the blue altered sky" of the golden
days of his youth. In this "wonder of summer" he re-lives the
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels.
The prodigiously involved vowel and consonantal arrangements of this
stanza — and, indeed, of the entire poem — complement its deepest
emotional meaning, harmony . Exceedingly delicate relationships between
words permeate the poem. For example, the closely juxtaposed words
"wonder" and "summer" are related through assonance and through rhymed
unstressed final syllables. Further, the widely separated line-end
words "apples" and "chapels" are related by full rhyme, and both words,
by approximate rhyme, are linked to another line-end word, "parables."
(In turn, "parables" is associated by assonance and initial consonance
to "pears.") The sounds, then, are harmoniously interrelated. Simi-
larly, the poet and the spirit of the child become as one: "his tears
burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine." The poet realizes that
"the long dead child" is a part of the wonder of nature and that his
spirit communicates "the truth of his joy" to trees, stones, and fish.
The effect of unity is heightened by such auditory echoes as the rhym-
ing of the initial syllables in "listening," " whisp ered," and "n^stery."
Everywhere the wonder of nature is evident, for
. , . the mystery-
Still in the water and singingbirds.
In the final stanza the poet, still feeling the child's joy "burning
in the sun," prays for his future ability to recapture and respond to
the lost innocence and joy of childhood, to experience again unparal-
leled unity and harmony:
may my heart' s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.
"A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London"
is a short, twenty- four-line poem of four stanzas of six lines each.
The syllabic count reveals an irregular pattern:
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 9- 5 S 9 5 10
II 9 7 10 10 5 10
III 11 5 11 10 5 9
IV 10 5 10 9 5 10
The rhyme scheme, however, is one of Thomas's most regular, for it
follows the pattern abcabc . (Note that the short lines in the stanza
rhyme bb.) In the first stanza all the rhyme words are feminine (since
Tnomas pronounces "flower" and "hour" each as two syllables) . In the
second stanza all the rhyme words are masculine. In stanzas III and IV
all the feminine rhymes are words ending in -er. Only three pairs of
rhymes are approximate: "darkness," "harness"; "murder," "further";
"friends," "Thames." AH the rest are full rhymes. Notwithstanding
such regularity and repetition, the rhymes are not immediately appar-
ent upon a first reading or first listening. In contrast to most of
the poems in Thomas's early poetic period (in which the lines are
mainly end-stopped and sense-determined), this poem is characterized
by enjambment, which naturally de-emphasizes the rhyme words. As to
internal rhyme, two instances occur: " humbling darkness" and "tum-
bling in harness," vdiich makes up for the only approximate quality
of the end-rhyme in these lines; and "grains" and "veins," whose
long vowels contribute to the slow, melancholy effect of
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother.
The pattern of speech-stressed syllables in "A Refusal to
Mourn" is varied. Yet in each stanza a complex pattern is repeated in
similar portions of different lines. In stanza I the phrases "mankind
making" and "last light breaking" form a spondee followed by a trochee;
the identical rhythm, in addition to the assonance in "kind" and "light,"
reinforces the full rhyme. In stanza II, lines 1 and 4 are rhythmically
identical — except for an initial (and extra) unstressed syllable in
line 4 — in forming an iamb followed by an amphibrach followed by two
And I must enter again the round
And the synagogue of the ear of corn.
In stanza III, lines 1 and 3, the concluding phrases are identical in
rhythm: "burning of the child's death" and "going with a grave truth."
Line 4 lacks the extra stressed syllable with -sdiich lines 1 and 5 con-
clude, but otherwise it, too, has the same rhythm: "stations of the
breath." In stanza IV the first and last lines are metrically identical,
with a dactyl followed by a spondee followed by two iambs plus an
unstressed final syllable:
Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter
After the first death, there is no other.
In regard to the speech stresses, however, only the first seven syl-
lables are rhythmically the same, since on the recording Thomas accents
the word "no." In several cases in which the rhythmic pattern is sim-
ilar, the phrases also bear similar syntactical constr^ictions (e.g.,
"burning of the child's death" and "going with a grave truth") or
auditory repetitions (e.g., "first dead" and "first death"). Such
parallelisms further help to bind parts of the poem intricately
Especially the first three stanzas of "A Refusal to Mourn" con-
tain few punctuated pauses. Instead, these stanzas form a series of
long rhetorical units, as in the opening lines:
Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Although this swiftly-flowing introduction is interesting in the cross-
alliteration of ra and k sounds and in the scattered assonance, it is in
the lines following that some of the most intriguing and complex conso-
nantal arrangements in the poem appear:
T ells with silen_ce the last light breaking
And the still hour.
Aside from the assonance in "silence" and "light," the variations upon
the sounds _s, t, and 1 singly or in combination are remarkable. The
concentration of these sounds culminates in the adjective "still,"
vmich (because of the frequency, in the preceding line, of its three
consonantal sounds) is heavily emphasized. Since by uttering the word
"silence," silence is broken and by uttering the word "still," still-
ness is broken, auditory effects cannot really correlate with these
concepts, but can only indicate related concepts. Usually silence and
stillness are related to softness and slowness. And here the sugges-
tion of silence and stillness is conveyed by the softness and slowness
created by the combinations of sounds used in these lines.
Throughout the lyric, the poet elaborates upon a general theme:
that he will not mourn needlessly the death of those who are absorbed
into the nystery of Nature. In particular, he will not make an elegy
for the innocent youth who died in a London fire, for she has escaped
the deaths-in-life which the long-lived experience; she will die only
the one time. The poet expresses this conclusion in the closing line,
"After the first death, there is no other, " which is memorable for at
least two reasons. First, it is a succinct statement complete within
one line. Since the poem is, for the most part, composed of long, rhe-
torical units spanning as much as thirteen lines, the clarity and com-
pression of this final line is, by contrast, enhanced. Secondly, the
literal clarity of the line veils an ambiguous implication. Specif-
ically, does "After the first death, there is no other" imply a pessi-
mistic philosophy of mortality, or a Christian philosophy of immortality?
"A Winter' s Tale" is considered by several critics, including
David Daiches and W. S. Merwin, to be one of Thomas's most magnificent
poems. Probably greater restraint would make for more enduring criti-
cism. For, in all likelihood, "A V'inter' s Tale" is simply Thomas's
most beautifully sustained and unified long narrative poem. A compar-
ison between "A Winter's Tale" and "The Ballad of the Long-legged Bait"
illuminates this qualified praise of the poem. On the one hand, the
narrative of "A Winter's Tale" — which may well be based upon myth —
lends itself to a single symbolic interpretation (i.e., a winter
ceremony of the rebirth of man and nature) better than does the narra-
tive of the mysterious voyage of a fisherman whose bride is his bait.
The imagery of "A Winter's Tale" is more precisely handled and its rich
and sustained musical texture more pervasive than in "The Ballad,"
On the other hand, "The Ballad" seems superior in the interesting vari-
ety of its rhymes (e.g., "anemone" and "enemy") and in the exquisite
lyricism of individual passages (e.g., "0 Rome and Sodom To-morrow and
London"). At its best, portions of "The Ballad" surpass the beauty of
"A Winter's Tale," but in its total unity and sustained lyricism, "A
Winter' s Tale" is the more perfect poem. Thomas struggled long to
achieve unity in "A Winter' s Tale" and, in vrriting to Vernon Watkins,
expressed his feeling that, after all, he had fallen short of his aim:
"I'm sending you some new poems. The long one ["A V/inter's Tale"]
doesn>t, I think, come off, but 1 like it all in spite of that. It
isn't really one piece, though, God, I tried to make it one and have
been working on it for months."
As to structure, "A Winter's Tale" has twenty-six stanzas of
five lines each. Only the first lines of each stanza have the same
syllabic count; that is, each of them except the one in the twenty-
sixth stanza has six syllables. But throughout the poem, even in the
six-syllable first lines of the stanzas, the speech stresses vary
considerably. The line-end word scheme, though, is in a strict pattern
of ababa . Over half the rhymes are full rhymes and, up to the thir-
teenth stanza, the approximate rhymes all involve the addition or omis-
sion of a z sound:
^°LVW, p. 126.
I tale, sail, vales VII stones, bones, alone_
lakes, flakes sky, stie_s
II cold, hold, told VIII prayers, lairs, air_
owl, cowl cloud, bowed
III old, unrolled, fold IX strung, tongues, among
bread, head tossed, lost
IV then, hen, men X night, white, light
snow, crov; caught, sought
V spades, milkmaids, trades XI cried, bride, astride
shy, sky need, seed
VI prayed, shade, afraid XII sing, wing_s, spring
light, night nightingale, tale
In the remainder of the poem, the addition or omission of a _z soiind is
never responsible for the approximate rhymes. It is as if the poem
more or less progressed from regularity in rhyme to greater and more
frequent irregularities (such as the approximate rhymes like "look"
linked with "rock" and "flock"). Repetition of the same rhyme-base
occurs throughout the poem. For example, two rhyme-bases are each used
four times: the rhyme-base "light," in stanzas VI, X, XV, XVIII and
the rhyme base "bride," in stanzas XT, XIV, XXI, XXV. Other rhyme-
bases are also repeated: "old" in stanzas II, III, and XVI; "snow"
in stanzas IV, XIX, and XXVI; "bread" in stanzas III and XXIII; "lakes"
in stanzas I and XX; "tale" in stanzas I and XII; "sky" in stanzas V
and VII. The recurrence of these particular rhymes — many of which are
words concerned with nature — contributes to the pastoral qualities of
The narrative of "A Winter's Tale" opens with a quiet but vivid
description of snow falling over the countryside and of a man at his
farrohouse fireside watching the out.ioor wintry scene. In his record-
ing, Thomas reads the first three stanzas softly; but even without the
benefit of his reading, a sensitive reader of the printed passage knows
that its music somehow falls almost as softly as the snow itself. The
few consonantal clusters in the first three stanzas involve primarily
continuants. Tne occurrences in the passage of the rather intense f
sound are softened by the many 1 sounds: "tale," "blind," "twilight,"
"lakes," "floating fields," "vales," "Gliding windless," "folded flakes,"
"pale," "cattle," "stealthy sail," to list only those in the first
stanza. The quiet effect of the passage is enhanced, too, by the
almost effortless initial semi- vowels in some words (for instance,
"vales," "windless," "Warning," "wended vales," and "world") and the
almost effortless final vowel sounds in other words (for instance,
"snow," "th rough ," "hay," and "snow"). These varied facets of Thomas's
auditory technique account largely for the sound echoing the meaning
in the opening three stanzas.
In marked contrast is the passage in stanza VI:
He knelt, he wept, he prayed.
By the spit and the black pot in the log bright light
And the cup and the cut bread. . . .
Here the final consonants in all the important words are explosives
("knelt," "wept," "prayed," "spit," "black pot," "log bright light,"
"cu£," and "cut bread"). The fact that the twenty-five words of the
passage are all monosyllables further contributes to the staccato
effect. By the clipped sounds in the line "By the spit and the black
pot in the log bright light," Thomas must have intended to evoke the
idea of a crackling, cozy fireside, for in stanza XVIII he repeats the
phrase, again against a background of more legato sounds describing
the serene wintry scene.
The follovn.ng stanza (XIV) is selected to illustrate the typ-
ical complexity of vowel and consonantal arrangements in "A V/inter' s
It was a hand or sound
In the long ago land that glided the dark door wide
And there outside on the bread of the ground
A she bird rose and rayed like a burning bride.
A she bird dawned, and her breast with snow and scarlet downed.
In addition to the full end rhyme ("sound," "ground," "downed" and
"wide," "bride"), there is internal rhyme ("hand," "land" and "glided,"
"wide," "outside," "bride"). Further, final consonance of the d sound
permeates the stanza: "hand," "sound," "land," "glided," "wide," "out-
side," "bread," "ground," "bird," "rayed," "bride," "bird," "dawned,"
and "downe^." All these words (except "glided" and "outside") are
monosyllables. Many of them are linked by other means than simply
final consonance — for example, "rayed" and "bride" as well as "dawned"
and "downed." A concentration of the consonants b and r near the end-
rhyme "bride" heightens its semantic importance: "bread," "bird,"
"burning," "bird," and "breast." Internal elements and line-end words
weave a web of assonance and alliteration. Moreover, stanza XIV is
representative of the poem as a whole in its harmony of sound and
Thus "A Winter's Tale" is to a great degree a unified and sus-
tained poem because of its rich musical texture, achieved through
ingenious repetitions of consonants, vowels, and even entire rhyme-
bases. In this poem phonetic devices seem employed more extensively,
if less strikingly, than in most of Thomas's poetry.
Like "Poem in October," the lyric "Fern Hill" laments the loss
of childhood Joy and innocence by recreating childhood spontaneity and
implying both its transience and its contrast with the poet's adult
Thomas's craft in "Fern Hill" is intricate. Not only is the
poem well-patterned in its structure (six stanzas of nine lines each),
but it is also well-patterned in its syllabic covint. The first, sec-
ond, third, and fifth stanzas are perfectly regular; the fourth, sixth,
and seventh have one irregularity each; and the eighth and ninth con-
tain, in identical positions, two different syllabic counts.
Number of Syllables
Stanza in Each Line
I 14 14 9 6 9 15 14 7 9
II 14 14 9 6 9 1% 14 7 9
III 14 14 9 5 9 14 14 9_6
IV 14 14 9 6 9 14 14 9_6
V 14 14 9 6 9 14 14 9_6
VI 14 14 9 6 9 14 15 7 9
The rhythm of the poem flows with the long, lilting lines, which are
associated primarily with the lightheartedness of youth, and ebbs with
the short, slower lines, which are associated primarily with the
In effect, then, the second very short line in each stanza
is simply placed as line 9, rather than line 8, in stanzas III, IV,
sinister presence of time. More specifically, although the patterns
of the speech stresses vary widely throughout the poem, certain tend-
encies characterize the long lines as compared to the short lines. For
the most part, the long lines have less than a 1: 2 ratio of stressed
to unstressed syllables, whereas the short lines — line 4 of each stanza
and line 8 of stanzas I, II, and VI and line 9 of stanzas III, IV,
and V— usually have a 1:2 ratio. The lilting quality of the long lines
is further heightened by the frequent anapestic beginnings; the more
somber quality of the short lines, by the frequent heavily stressed
The assonance of the stressed syllables of the line-end words
in the poem helps to produce a singing, chanting effect. The asso-
nantal arrangements are in the pattern abcddabcd ;
I boughs, town IV white, light
green, leaves all, warm
starry, barley maiden, stable
climb, eyes, light again, day, praise
II bams, calves V house, allows
home, cold long, songs
only, slowly over, golden
be, means, streams ways, hay, grace
III hay, away VI me, means
air, night- jars hand, land
watery, horses rising, dying
grass, stars, dark sleep, fields, sea
There are only three types of departures from the abcddabcd pattern of
assonance: (l) one instance of only approximate assonance, in "air"
and "night-jars"; (2) one instance of Thomas's pronunciation (on the
recording) making approximate assonance of what can be pronounced in
British English as full assonance, in "again" — vdiich Thomas reads with
a stressed _e vowel — with "day" and "praise"; (3) one instance of a
change in the assonantal pattern, in stanza VI, where it becomes
abcddbacd. The rhythm of the line-end words forms a very distinctive
scheme. With the exception of the final phrase ("take me") in stanza
VI, line 1, all line-end words in lines 3 and 8 are feminine and in
the other lines, masculine.
A very important but seldom mentioned factor in the lilt of
the lines in "Fern Hill" is the high frequency of vowels. An examina-
tion reveals that there is often a fairly continuous alternation of
vowel and consonantal sounds and that when consonants are juxtaposed,
they are in several instances lightly breathed h' s (as in "hay / Fields
high as the house" or "happy as the heart was long") or semi- vowels
(as in "the sun that is young _once only" or "the spellbound horses
walking warm"). In the opening lines of stanza II, many of the words
begin or end in a vowel sound:
And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
llbouT tHe happy yar"d and singing as the Tarm was~home.
In the sun that is young once only,
~ Time let me p lay and be
Golden in the merc^ of his means.
(Note that a nasal — mostly preceded by the a vowel — links the seman-
tically important words in the line "In the sun that is young once
So superbly constructed is "Fern Hill" that the symbolic
imagery and the sound patterns in every line contribute to the bal-
anced and unified whole. Consider, for example, the first stanza.
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green.
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
The opening words, "Now as I was young and easy," hint (through the use
of the past tense) of the loss of youthful bliss, and the phrase "Time
let me hail and climb" suggests that time rules even the child's life.
Moreover, the phrase "once below a time" (used to less advantage in a
poem by that title) not only evokes the familiar fairy-tale introduc-
tion, but also poignantly underscores the fact that the child is sub-
ject to the laws of time. In the light of these ominous suggestions
(which are made more explicit in the later stanzas), the child's sover-
eignty, as the "prince of the apple towns" who "lordly had the trees,"
is charged with irony. Yet for the moment, all seems green and golden,
and the child is an integral part of his environment. Throughout the
stanza, alliteration (such as "grass was green"), assonance (such as
"trees and leaves"), and internal rhyme (such as "apple," "happy" and
"Time," "climb") create a euphony which aptly reinforces the emotional
meaning of the harmony between the child and nature.
In the second stanza the rhythmical swing of the long lines
describes further the happy, carefree childhood on the farm; the slower
pace of the short lines again emphasizes the somber, inevitable changes.
Especially effective is the syntactical repetition beginning in the
fourth line ("Time let me be / Golden . . .") which balances the phrase
beginning in the fourth line of the first stanza ("Time let me hail
and climb / Ciolden ..."). In stanza III the opening tempo runs fast
with lightly stressed rhythms, syntactical repetitions, and consonance
of the smooth continuant 1 ("it was lovely ... it was air / And play-
ing, lovely and watery") . But the succeeding lines foreshadow the con-
clusion of the poem, when the delights of childhood are lost forever;
for here the delights of childhood are temporarily borne away during
the night. This portentous event is, fittingly enough, described with
dark vowels (in "rode," "owls," "moon long," and "horses"). In stanza
IV the farm has returned with the dew, and the flowing phrase of
stanza III is echoed in "it was all / Shining, it was Adam and maiden."
So joyous and so innocent" were those youthful days that the poet com-
pares them to the first days of Creation:
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In- the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm.
Out of the vjhinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.
Of the many phonetic echoes in these lyrical lines, only two shall be
mentioned: the excitingly approximate internal rhyme in "spinning" and
"whinnying"; the consecutive and vertical assonance of stressed syl-
lables in "green stable" and "fields of praise." Similarly interest-
ing echoes permeate the final stanzas (witness the internal rhyme in
stanza VI, line 5, of "I," "fly," "high"). The facts of time become
more insistent in the conclusion, but the child is still heedless.
The poet makes no moral judgment on the child's attitude; instead, he
implies his sorrow that such joy and innocence are transient and his
wonder that such beauty and spontaneity ever existed at all:
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
The undeniable magic in "Fern Hill" can never be even partially
analyzed. Only Thomas's intricate craft can be. For poetic magic is
elusive and, as Thomas himself commented, it is "always accidental.
No poet," he continued, "would labour intensively upon the intricate
craft of poetry unless he hoped that, suddenly, the accident of magic
would occur. He has to agree with Chesterton that the miraculous thing
about miracles is that they do sometimes happen. Ajnd the best poem is
that whose worked-upon unmagical passages come closest, in texture and
intensity, to those moments of magical accident. "^^ Since Thomas spoke
these words in a B.B.C. broadcast in Jime of 1946 and since "Fern Hill"
was probably composed sometime the year before, Thomas may have had
this poem in mind. That he worked extensively on the poem is attested
by the fact that he wrote over two hundred "separate and distinct ver-
sions" of it. By his own standard, then, "Fern Hill" is a "best
poem." For its "worked-upon unmagical passages" have been transformed
nrysteriously into a unified poem which is one of the few "moments of
magical accident" in contemporary poetry.
"On Poetry: A Discussion," Encounter , III (November, 1954), 25.
John Malcolm Brinnin, Eylan Thomas in America (New York
1958), p. 125. ■ '
"In ray Craft or Sullen Art" is a twenty-line lyric with eleven
lines in the first stanza and nine lines in the second stanza. That
the second stanza is shorter by two lines has interesting ramifica-
tions in respect to the balanced structural patterns of the two stanzas.
If the patterns of syllables, of speech stresses, of line-end rhymes,
and of line-end rhythms are studied, it becomes obvious that only two
lines upset the parallelism between the stanzas. Close observation of
the rhyme scheme does, though, make a solution obvious: if, instead
of assuming that the two extra lines in stanza I correspond to the last
two lines of stanza II, one considers them as the sixth and seventh
lines of stanza II, then the pattern appears quite uniform. In the
light of this adjustment, the balanced structure of the syllabic pat-
tern, as well as of the speech stresses, becomes evident:
Number of Syllables Number of Speech- Stresses
Stanza in Each Line Stanza in Each Line
I 77777777776 I 43333333233
II 77677--7776 II 33433--3233
But an even greater uniformity exists in the rhyme scheme. In all,
there are only five rhyme-bases in the poem, since the second stanza
uses the same rhyme-bases (and in parallel positions) as the first
stanza. And the rhyme schemes of the two stanzas are — with the excep-
tion of the omitted lines — identical:
Stanza I abcdebdecca
II abode — ecca
Even though the lines are very short, the rhymes do not create a sing-
song effect, because most lines are run-on, and each stanza is one long
sentence. Since the same rhyme-bases are used in parallel positions in
both stanzas, it follows that the pattern of masculine and feminine
rhymes is necessarily identical in both stanzas:
Stanza I mmfmmmmmffm
Syntactical and phrasal repetitions contribute to the structural
unity of "In my Craft or Sullen Art." In stanza I occur the introduc-
tory words "Not for" (line 7) and "But for" (line lO) ; in stanza II
occiir the introductory words "Not for" (line l) , "Nor for" (line 4),
"But for" (line 6), and "Nor" (line 9). It is noteworthy that four of
these six lines have identical metrical patterns: a trochee followed
by an amphibrach followed by an iamb. The line "But for the common
wages" differs only in that the rhyme word is a trochee instead of an
iamb. The final line of the poem ("Nor heed my craft or art") differs
markedly from the other five related lines in its continuous iambic
Assonance and consonance form an important part of the lyricism
of "In my Craft or Sullen Art." In the opening line, for example, the
assonance — in Thomas' s pronunciation — and the final consonance of the
words "craft" and "art" link them in sound and meaning. Other effec-
tive sound patterns might be pointed out: the consonance of the _s
sound in "sullen," "Exercised," and "still" and of the n sound in
"sullen," "in," "night," "When only," and "moon"; the assonance in
"exercised" and "night"; the alliteration of "lovers lie," which is
echoed in "all" in the succeeding line; the use of _s, t, and r sounds
in "the strut and trade of charms / On the ivory stages," vrfiich (by
binding together "strut," "trade," and "stages") stresses the sugges-
tion of Shakespeare's "poor player," who "struts and frets his hour
upon the stage / And then is heard no more." But the most euphonious
and lyrical line in the first stanza is: "I labour by singing light."
Here the first, middle, and last syllables of the line (i.e., "I,"
"by," and "light") are related by assonance of the long diphthong ai.
Consonance of 1 and b sounds is prominent in "labour by . . . light."
The word "singing," with its repetition of "-ing," reinforces the
effect of the meaning suggested by the first syllable of the word.
Moreover, ioio is very light, voiced throughout, and composed entirely
of continuants. In the second stanza fewer sound patterns are obvious,
so that the three occurrences of the long vowel e in "Who pay no praise
nor wages" are the more emphatic. Part of the musical effectiveness of
the phrase can be explained by the fact that the graphs of the vowel
tone and pitch are parallel. Indeed the parallelism continues into the
final line and thus connects the closing thoughts of the poem.
A lyrical ars poetica , "In my Craft or Sullen Art" agrees with
Thomas's prose statements on his method of composition and his purpose
in writing poetry. His poetic craft is a "sullen art" which results
not from divine inspiration but from constant practice and labor. Yet
he feels his craft must be closely related to the inmost heart of real
life, i.e., the intense joys and sorrows of
. . . the lovers [who] lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms.
His art, the poem says, is for the lovers, even though they ignore it.
In a prose statement defending the usefulness of his poetry, Thomas had
My poetry is . . . the record of my individual struggle
from darkness towards some measure of light. . . . I^ poetry is,
or should be, useful to others for its individual recording of
that same struggle with vrfaich they are necessarily acquainted.
The lovers, however, "pay no praise or wages / Nor heed my craft or
art." Even so, Thomas's poetry is written for them; both his art and
the lovers' actions reflect the essential experiences of life.
^^uite Early One Morning, p. 188.
In Thomas's third and final period, 1946 till his death in 1953,
he wrote only eight poems, six of which are analyzed in the following
XXIII - "In Country Sleep"
XXIV - "Over Sir John' s hill"
XXV - "In the white giant's thigh"
XXVI - "Do not go gentle into that good night"
XXVII - "Lament"
XXVIII - "Poem on his Birthday"
Tnese poems are characterized by simpler meanings and more com-
plex auditory patterns than in the early poetry. The structure is more
flexible, the rhythm more flowing, and the verbal and visual patterning
more complex yet more pervasive. The influence upon Thomas of oral
reading accounts in large part for the differences between the early
and late poetry. His first extensive oral reading of poetry was on
the B. B.C. ^ As Roy Campbell said, Thomas's discovery that he could
read poetry on the radio transformed his later poems for tne better.
As a result of this discovery— which was reinforced by his public read-
ings in England and (on four different visits) in the United States-
Thomas projected into his later poetry some of the dynamic, lyrical
%oy Campbell says that "Dylan was the best all-round reader
of verse that I ever produced . . . [though] he was best at the 'wild
and wooly' poets." ("Memories of Dylan Thomas at the B.B.C.," Poetry ,
LXXXVII [November, IS 55], 112.)
deferred to by Herbert Marshall McLuhan, "Sight, Sound, and
the Fury," Commonweal , IX (April 9, 1954), 7.
qualities of his own rich, resonant voice. Equally important, from his
new relationship with the public, he was forced to recognize the need
for simplification of meaning in any poetry which a person is to \inder-
stand and appreciate upon first hearing rather than seeing . Such
poetry is more effective, too, if the meaning is universalized rather
than merely personalized. And sound, he realized, should assist rather
than dominate the meaning in poetry of high excellence. At a confer-
ence with students at the University of Utah in 1852, Tnomas indicated
clearly that his new approach is tovrard simplification and lyricism
and that this re-direction is inextricably related to his oral reading.
At first I thought it enough to have an impression of
sound and feeling and let the meaning seep in later, but
since I've been giving these broadcasts and reading other
men' s poetry as well as my own, I find it better to have
more meaning at first reading.
It appears, then, that Thomas' s progress toward simplicity and lyricism
was to some extent a conscious effort. Through oral reading of poetry
on the radio and in lectures, Thomas came to realize that sound and
meaning should correlate and should simultaneously affect the reader.
Thomas originally intended that "In Country Sleep," "Over Sir
John's hill," and "In the white giant's thigh" should someday form
separate parts of a long poem. In 1950 he said of the projected poem
that "some [of it] . . . is written down on paper, some of it is in a
rough draft in the head, and the rest of it radiantly unworded in ambi-
tious conjecture." Tnis "poem in preparation" was to be on a "grand
and simple" plan and was to be called "In Country Heaven." The three
separate poems are, unfortunately, the only extant completed portions
of the long poem and can give no accurate idea of the form and content
it might have had. "I do not yet know myself," Thomas further commented,
"their relevance to the whole, hypothetical structure. But I do know
they belong to it." Thus it seems valid to treat the three poems
almost as separate works in respect to their sound and meaning.
The first section of "In Country Sleep" contains nine stanzas
of seven lines each, and the second section, eight stanzas of six lines
each. The pattern of total number of syllables varies from eleven to
fourteen syllables in the long lines, but is always four syllables in
the short lines (i.e., line 5 of part 1 and line 4 of part 2). Although
most of the lines have either five or six strong speech stresses, there
is some variation which correlates with the emotional impact of the par-
ticular line. For instance, the following two lines differ greatly in
their rhythmic impression and their number of speech stresses. On the
one hand, "Sleep, good, for ever slow and deep, spelled rare and wise"
(part 1, stanza II) , with its many consecutive, heavily stressed mono-
syllables is slow and lingering in effect. On the other hand, "Night
and the reindeer on the clouds above the haycocks" (part 2, stanza I)
has one more syllable but only half as many speech stresses, and pro-
duces a quick, light effect.
It is the taut rhyme scheme which most formally organizes the
structure of the poem. The fhyme scheme for part 1 is abcbaac and for
^Quite Early One Morning (Norfolk, Conn., 1954), p. 180.
part Z, abbcca. All except five of the fifty-one rhyme-word patterns
are masculine. Few of the rhymes are approximate and almost half of
the stanzas have two of the three rhymes identical in vowel sound, as
in the repetition of the i sound in part 1, stanza I:
near, dear, year
Moreover, seven different rhyme-bases which appear in the first six
stanzas recur later in the poem. In part 1, stanza I, for example,
the "near" rhyme is used in stanza IV and again in stanza VIII, the
"asleep" rhyme is used in stanza III, and the "hood" rhyme is used in
stanza V. Both the assonance-link within many of the stanzas' rhymes
and the rhyme-link between many of the stanzas contribute to the inter-
locking nature of the poem's structure.
"In Country Sleep" abounds in internal rhymes, many of them
adjacent to each other or rhyming with the end words. These internal
Part 1 Part Z
I near, Fear, dear, dear, year I fair, prayer, there, hare-
asleep, sheepwhite, leap cocks, fox
II Sleep, deep II
III sleep, keep III tale, pail
IV Bell, spell IV black-backed
fear, near, clear
dell, well, cell
V tree, three V blue, true, dew
Part 1 Part 2
VI gay may VI
VII spelled at rest, held and blessed VII tide, riding
vast night, last night
VII - VIII seek, meek VIII grieve, believe
fear, dear, dear
IX falls, stalls, falls, falls, falls
Several of the internal rhyme-word patterns, such as the "fear" rhyme
and the "sleep" rhyme, recur as internal rhymes. Notice that these two
words themselves emphasize ideas basic to the poem's theme — that is,
the father's fear that his daughter may not be protected in life as she
is in sleep .
Although the stanzas are well-defined as to their arrangement
of lines, syllables, and rhymes, they are seldom end-stopped, which
makes for a rapid, fluid movement. The various parts of the poem are
related frequently by repetition and echoes of phrases. Several
examples may be cited: "Never and never, ray girl" (part 1, stanza I)
and "Never, my girl" (part 1, stanza III); "you are shielded by fern /
And flower" (part 1, stanza III) and "Be shielded by chant and flower"
(part 1, stanza VI); "This night and each vast night," "This night and
each night" (part 1, stanza VIII) and "The leaping saga of prayer'."
(part 2, stanza I), "But her faith that each vast night and the saga
of prayer / . . . Her faith that this last night," (part 2, stanza VII),
"this night he comes and night without end," "this dawn and each first
dawn" (part 2, stanza VIII ) . Other echoes are fainter and further
apart, like "Night and the reindeer" (part 2, stanza I) and "Night and
the vein of birds" (part 2, stanza II) or "sly as snow" (part 1,
stanza VIII), and "Slyly, slowly" (part Z, stanza VI). Yet all the
repetitions and echoes seem to contribute to a chanting effect which
characterizes the poet's plea for protection for his child.
Of the numerous and extensive patterns of assonance and conso-
nance in the poem only a few of the most interesting can be pointed out.
For instance, sometimes — as in the numerous i sounds of part 1, stanza
I — the assonance reinforces the vowel sound of the predominant end rhyme,
Sometimes words in identical vertical positions of adjacent lines are
subtly and intricately related. Part 1, stanza II, lines 1 and Z con-
clude, respectively, with the phrases "rare and wise" and "rose and
shire." "Rare" and "rose" are linked by alliteration, "wise" and
"shire" by assonance, "rare" and "shire" by final consonance, "wise"
and "rose" by final consonance. Such lattice-work in sound is skill-
fully unobtrusive, but helps to create the general impression of a har-
mony which can lull the poet's little girl to sleep. Similarly, in
part 1, stanza III the phrase "until tolled to sleep" is interlocked
by the initial and final consonance in "-til" and "tolled." In the
following stanza the end-rhyme and internal rhyme of "Bell" and "spell"
and later of "dell," "well," and "cell" is twice softly echoed in the
lyrical statement, "A hill touches an angel." In part 1, stanza II
the consonance of t and 1 sounds binds together the words "tolls,"
"stall," and "tales." Cross-alliteration of the voiced continuants 1
and m is evident in the relationship between the phrases "Illumina-
tion of musici" and "Music of elements," -vmich are placed in initial
positions in lines 1 and 5, respectively, of part 1, stanza IV.
In large part the lullaby, lyrical effect of the poetry of
"In Country Sleep" results from the extensive use, throughout the poem,
of the voiced continuant 1. Part 1, stanza IX serves as a good illus-
tration; here the twenty-one occurrences of the sound 1 (including rep-
etitions of the word "fall") retard and punctuate the rhythm. The mean-
ing of several of these words creates the impression of falling ("falls,"
"hail," "glides"). Frequently the 1 sound appears in conjunction with
the voiced continuant s, as in "spelled asleep." Indeed the emphasis
(throughout part l) on the consonants in "spelled asleep" extends the
literal meaning associated with these key words of the poem. In part
1, stanza VII, the voiced continuants and the internal rhyme in the
first five lines contrast strikingly with the explosives in the final
two lines, just as the father's hope for his child's peaceful rest (in
the opening lines) contrasts with his fears for her safety (in the clos-
ing two lines), rne entire poem is a father's prayerful hope that his
daughter be protected in life, as in sleep.
"Over Sir John' s hill" concerns a hawk that kills young birds
above the River Towy while a heron and a poet watch. The elegiac nature
of the poem makes appropriate its relatively slow, lyrical rhythm. The
line lengths of a single stanza vary from one to fourteen or fifteen
syllables. A discernible regularity exists, however, in the syllabic
count of the respective lines of the five stanzas. As Ralph N. Maud
notes, the work sheets of "Over Sir John's hill" reveal that Thomas
counted syllables at a certain stage in developing the poem, but later
abandoned absolute regularity of syllabic count in order to include
certain phrases. The result is:
Stanza Number of Syllables in Each Line
I 5 6 14 15 5 1 15 5 14 5 14 14
II 5 6 13 14 5 1 13 6 13 4 13 14
III 5 6 13 14 4 1 14 4 15 5 14 13
IV 5 6 14 14 5 1 14 4 14 4 13 13
V 5 6 14 14 6 1 13 5 14 6 14 13
A notable phenomenon in "Over Sir John' s hill" is the almost
complete avoidance of polysyllables and the verj'- emphatic nature of
closely juxtaposed monosyllables, which are reinforced by all kinds of
phonetic echoes, sometimes so crowded as to make enunciation difficult
unless one reads the poem slowly. This parading of emphatic monosyl-
labism culminates in the one-syllable links in the midcle of each
stanza. Each one- syllable line appears as a pivot around which the
stanza turns. Before the pivot the flow seems to be narrowing and
slowing down, vmereas after it the flow seems to be expanding and accel-
erating. In particular, the long line after the monosyllabic one usu-
ally has a number of disyllabic words — in stanza II there is even one
of four syllables ("elegiac") — which quicken and smooth the pace.
Bius the total rhythmic pattern in each stanza is one of contraction
In the relationships between the end-words of the lines, "Over
Sir John' s hill" is complex. The comments made by Gilbert Highet
See Language and Meaning in the Poetry of I)ylan Thomas . Unpub-
lished Ph.D. dissertation (Harvard University, 1958), pp. 152-153.
concerning the rhyme scheme of the poem are some'what over-simplified,"
for the relationships between the line-end words run the gamut from
full- rhyme to varieties of consonantal and assonantal similarities.
Stanza End-Word Line
I hill, still, until
hedges, heron, headstone
II crack, jack-, hawk
paddles, passage, prancing
dab- filled, killed
III shell, bell, elm
brand , shall
dilly, dingle, distant
IV vale, sail, hail
whistles, windows, idiispering
V go, snow, slow
scaly, shaken, sailing
Close observation of these sets of end-words reveals a distinct progres-
sion from a predominance of full-rhyme in the first stanza ("hill,"
"still," "until"; "bay," "play"; "squawk," "hawk") to a predominance
In saying that "Ihe seventh and ninth lines have no corre-
sponding rhymes," Highet overlooks the relationships vdiich the end-words
of these lines usually bear to, respectively, the eleventh and twelfth
lines, and the first and second lines. ("The Great Welsh Poet: Dylan
Thomas," excerpt from Tne Powers of Poetry- , in Vogue , CXXXV [March 15,
of assonance in the final stanza ("owl," "Shout"; "elms," "hens";
"scaly," "waves," "grave," "shaken," "sailing"). Yet, interestingly
enough, the scheme for the relationship between the end-words is the
same in all stanzas — aabccbdeaedd — no matter whether the relationship
itself is mainly that of full-rhyme, consonance, or assonance. In
stanza V assonance of the same vowel occurs in lines 7, 8, 10, 11, and
12, but the line- end words in 7, 11, and 12 are more closely linked with
each other — through similar initial consonants — than with the line-end
words in lines 8 and 10.
A number of line-end words in "Over Sir John' s hill" rhyme with
words within the line. In stanza I, "shrill" (line 5) rhymes with "hill"
and "still," and "rays" (line 4) echoes "bay" and "play." In stanza II,
"black" (line 2) rhymes with "crack" and "jack-" in the lines
Flash, and the plumes crack.
And a black cap of jack-
The proximity of these three rhymes, the assonance linking them with
two of the three other stressed syllables of the lines ("Flash" and
"cap"), the punctuation marks (including the hyphenation of an end-
word) , and the predominance of explosives (_£, b, and k) , all tend to
create a forcefiil and staccato tempo which reinforces the meaning of
Internal rhyme and approximate rhyme are relatively frequent
throughout the poem, as in "slowly" and "holy" (stanza I, line 11),
"There / Where" (stanza II, lines 6 and 7) , "stabs" and "dab-" (stanza
II, lines 7 and 8), "paddles" and "pebbly" (stanza III, lines 7 and 8),
"'dilly dilly"' (stanza II, line 9 and stanza III, line 7), "grieve"
and "leave" (stanza III, line 2), and "hoot" and "looted" (stanza V,
lines 3 and 4) . Alliteration pervades the poem and is especially effec-
tive when used subtly, as in the case of the cross-alliterated pairs of
words, "Shallow and and sedge" and "psalms and shadows" (stanza II,
lines S and 12) . Consonance and assonance are skillfully interwoven
in numerous instances. In the phrase "Sir John's elmed / llill, tell-
tale the knelled / Guilt," the frequency of the vowels e and i and of
the voiced continuant 1 emphasizes the key phrase "knelled / Guilt" and
(by their close juxtaposition) enforces a slow reading of the passage.
In the concluding stanza the poet comments on the natural sounds
vdiich he hears on Sir John's hill; these sounds remind him of the once-
familiar sounds of the young birds now dead. The staccato rhythms of
the explosives in these opening lines (e.g., "snapt," "cupt," and
"Shout") echo the meaning, the sharp sounds of the hoot owl and the
blown grassblade. By contrast, the conclusion is the more effective,
for its long vowels (o and e) and voiced consonants ( s and l) reinforce
the solemn and slow music of the elegy. That is, in the closing line
the poet laments not simply the death of young birds but mortality
itself, when he grieves "for the sake of the souls of the slain birds
sailing . "
"In the vrfiite giant's thigh" is a romantic poem in vdiich long
dead women, vho in life were childless, reveal to the poet their long-
ing, even in death, to bear children. Although "In the white giant's
thigh" contains ambiguous, erotic imagery (such as the "white giant's
thigh," which is a Welsh landmark as well as a sexual image), it is
actually as devoid of bawdry as "Lament" is full of it. The beauty of
the poem lies chiefly in "the general feel and sound of it," as Thomas
- ., 6
The complex verbal and visual patterning of "In the -vdiite giant's
thigh" is relatively unobtrusive, Tne rhyme scheme, for instance, falls
neatly into the abab pattern repeated fifteen times, and each of the
thirty rhymes except two is a full rhyme and each of the sixty rhyme
words except five is a monosyllable. Yet the obviousness of this
scheme is disguised, since the poem consists of paragraphs of various
lengths (rather than regular quatrain stanzas), since less than half
the lines are retarded by any punctuation mark (wiich lessens the
emphasis on the rhymes), and since the same rhyme words almost never
In the first portion of the poem the paragraphs are shorter
than in the last portion, and the early, short paragraphs seem partic-
ularly cohesive because of the internal rhjine, idiich appears seldom in
the later, longer paragraphs. Internal rhymes flow thickly in the
opening lines of the poem: "high" and "lie" with line-end rhymes "cry"
and "thigh"; "night," "white" j "there," "Vfliere"; "though," "ago";
Quite Early One Morning , p. 183.
The notable exception is the rhyme words "hill" and "still,"
idiich occur both at the beginning and end of the poem. The repetition
serves to stress the importance of the meaning of these words to the
poem as a whole.
"they lay" and "bay" with line-end rhymes "pray" and "away"; "Pleading,"
"seed," "weed"; "Though" with line-end rhymes "ago" and "flow."
Many of the poetic devices utilized in the first portion of the
poem seem concentrated in the description of the long-ago love scenes
of the passionate, dead country women,
. . . Who once in gooseskin winter loved all ice leaved
In the courters' lanes, or twined in the ox roasting sun
In the wains tonned so high that the wisps of the hay
Clung to the pitching clouds, or gay with any one
Young as they in the after milking moonlight lay.
The lushness of the lines evokes the sense of physical longing which is
expressed in terms of the creative urge of nature. Internal full or
approximate rhymes occur in "gooseskin winter"; "lanes," "wains"; "sun,"
"tonned"; "Clung," "Yoiing"; "gay" and "they" (^ich are linked with the
line-end rhymes "hay" and "lay"). Alliteration of the voiced contin-
uants 1 and m in "milking moonlight lay" produces a restful and smooth
effect which is in keeping with the sensual meaning. A more intricate
relationship occurs in the phrase "loved all ice leaved," in v^ich
"loved" and "leaved" are identical in initial and final consonants and
the voiced continuant 1 is echoed in the intervening word "all."
Two consecutive lines, forming a single paragraph, offer a
striking contrast in sound effects:
Or rippling soft in the spinney moon as the silk
And ducked and draked white lake that harps to a hail stone.
The lines continue the recollection of the women' s love-making by
describing the flesh quivering in the act of love like a lake that
ripples in response to a hailstone. The smooth, voiced continuants
(_s, r, 1, m, and n) and the repetition of the short vowel i in the
first line contrast with the explosives (predominantly the consonants
d, k, and t) and the repetition of the long vowel e in the second line.
The stress patterns further contribute to the emotional impact of the
lines. Beginning similarly with two iambs, the lines then differ
sharply in stress pattern: to help create the legato effect of the
first line, unstressed syllables occur more frequently than stressed
syllables; to help create the staccato effect of the second line, con-
secutive stressed monosyllables occur in "draked white lake" and "hail
stone." Within the context, these two lines are superb examples of
correlation of sound and meaning.
In other passages, too, sound reflects meaning. Tne tumbling
rhythm and clipped explosives of "butter fat goosegirls, bounced in a
gambo bed" reinforce the meaning. It is perhaps noteworthy that the
word "gambo" (vriiich denotes a simple farm cart) has special connota-
tions in this context. Since the word "goose" occurs near the vrord
"gambo," there is a verbal association with the gambo goose (an Afri-
can spur-winged goose); more significantly, there is a verbal associa-
tion between "gambo" and "gambol" (a skipping or leaping about in
frolic) which reinforces the literal meaning of the bouncing girls in
the cart. A second interesting passage concerns the barrenness of the
. . nothing bore, no mouthing babe to the veined hives
Hugged, and barren and bare on Mother Goose's ground.
Here the words "bore, no," "barren," and "bare on" all hollowly echo
each other and enhance the meaning.
Although in life the women's love bore no fruit, in death their
love can be influential. The poet pleads that the women will
Teach rae the love that is evergreen after the fall leaved
Grave, after Beloved on the grass gulfed cross is scrubbed
Off by the sun.
The first line here is smooth and flowing, with repetition of the
stressed i vowel ("Teach," "green," "leaved") and of continuants (l and
r) . In contrast is the more forceful and dynamic phrase in the second
line, which uses different arrangements of similar explosives (g and k)-
usually in combination with the continuant r — "grass gulfed cross is
scrubbed." And within these women (the poet says) love lives on, "Love
for ever meridian." The concluding line symbolizes this all-consuming
yet deathless love:
And the daughters of darkness flame like Fawkes fires still.
This flaring image alludes to the country custom of lighting bonfires
on each November 5, Guy Fawkes Day. Thomas, who considered Thomas
Hardy his favorite twentieth- century poet, may even have associated
the lines with the dark and passionate Eustacia Vye who, in a climactic
early chapter of The Return of the Native , uses her "Fawkes fire" as a
signal for her lover, Damon Wildeve. Certainly the consonance of _d, f,
and 1, and the repetition of the s sibilant (which suggests the hissing
flames of bonfires) help create a haunting line. The tempo, beginning
relatively swiftly with two anapests, concludes with slowness and final-
ity, on three consecutive stressed monosyllables.
"Do not go gentle into that good night" is perhaps too often
considered lightly as only simple iteration. Cid Gorman even believes
that "the set form of the villanelle treads Thomas's feet." By defin-
ition the villanelle is restrictive, because it demands nineteen lines
on two rhymes in six stanzas, the first and third lines of the opening
tercet recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets, and both
repeated at the end of the concluding quatrain. Within this structure,
though, Thomas creates a poem of great force, beauty, and tenderness,
in vniich sound and sense are exquisitely blended.
Thomas's villanelle is a plea to his ill and aging father to
die as wise men, good men, wild men, grave men die, and as the father
himself has lived — struggling, "[raging] against the d^^'ing of the
light." The structure of the poem involves two uses of the repeated
lines with some functional change. In the opening stanza, "Do not go
gentle into that good night" and "Rage, rage against the dying of the
light" are imperatives directed to an unidentified person. In the next
four stanzas one or the other of these repeated phrases forms the pred-
icate to statements about, respectively, wise men, good men, wild men,
and grave men. In the concluding stanza, the poet directly addresses
his father, and the repeated lines thus become significant imperatives
— first the negative command to his father, "Do not go gentle into that
good night"; then the positive command to him to assert his individual-
ity, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
""Dylan Thomas: Rhetorician in Mid-Career," Accent, XIII
(Winter, 1953), 58.
Numerous other devices contribute to the subtle variations
within the pattern of the villanelle. Though the meter is generally
iambic pentameter, the speech stresses in a line vary from five (the
"Rage, rage" line) to eight (the "Do not go gentle" line) and save the
poem from a monotonous, "sing-song" rhythm. The simplicity of the
vocabulary and the scarcity of polysyllables aid in the lyrical smooth-
ness of the rhythm. (Six: of the nineteen lines—almost one-third— are
composed of monosyllables only.) The full, resonant effect of the poem
is intensified by the fact that the two rhyme-bases involve long vowels
(e and ai) . Especially in stanzas III and V, the rhymes are emphasized
by a concentration of internal assonance of e and _ai:
Good men, the last wave b^, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green ba^;,
Rage, rage against the d^ing of the light.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors anl be gay.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Both stanzas have at least four uses of each of the rhyme vowels,
excluding the rhyme words themselves. The repetition of vowel sounds
focuses attention upon the meaningful words of these stanzas; it helps
to indicate an important theme underlying the poem— the discrepancy
between what the good and grave men have done in life (frail deeds)
and what they mi git have done (blazing, meteoric deeds) .
Part of the powerfulness of the poem results from the intensity
of striking power of the words used. One out of every eight syllables
is of very high striking power (ten syllables have a striking power of
39, thirteen have a striking power of 40 to 44). Tnus Thomas's language
is exhortative in both sound and meaning; the words rage as he desires
his father to rage.
In the final stanza lies the core of the poem' s meaning. More
quiet, calm, and tender than the preceding lines, this stanza directly
addresses the poet's father on his precipice of death (i.e., "on the
sad height") , Then in the second line Tnomas urges his father to
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
This line of ten monosyllables is strong, deliberate, and slow in tempo.
Closely juxtaposed repetitions of the same sound usually produce an
effect of retarding the rhythm. Such is the case here, where the s
sound (introduced by the word "sad" in the first line of the stanza)
is repeated. The three most important words end in the sound s — "curse,"
"bless," and "fierce" — and "tears" ends in the closely related z sound.
Thomas's use of punctuation also retards the rhythm, in particular the
non- grammatical use in "curse^ bless_^ me now." Indeed, the oxymoron*,
effect of "curse, bless" reflects the dichotomy and poignancy of
Thomas's plea to his father. The poet prays that his father will,
with fierce tears, curse and bless him — as his final and ultimate pro-
test against death.
In "Lament" an unrepentant old sinner recalls the sensual
pleasures of his adolescence, manhood, and prime (in stanzas I, II,
and III, respectively) and laments the physical deterioration of his
old age and "all the deadly virtues" that attend his deathbed hours
(in stanzas IV and V, respectively).
Structurally, "Lament" consists of five stanzas of twelve lines
each. The total number of syllables in each line is always either nine
Stanza Niomber of Syllables in Each Line
I 10 9 10 10 S 10 9 S 10 10 9 9
II 10 9 10 9 10 10 9 10 10 10 9 9
III 10 9 10 9 9 10 10 S 9 9 9 9
IV 10 9 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 10 9
V 9 10 10 9 10 9 10 9 10 9 9 10
The number of speech-stressed syllables in each line, however, varies
from three to seven.
Various sound patterns in "Lament" correspond generally with
the poem's meaning. The first three stanzas, which concern the nar-
rator's wild, lusty past existence, mark a general contrast with the
last two stanzas, vmich concern his subdued, impotent present exist-
ence. Two elements of sound vdiich reinforce meaning might be dis-
cussed in this connection: the contrast in types of consonants and
the contrast in metrical patterns. First, many of the consonants in
the opening stanzas are explosives. Especially effective clusters of
explosives occur in
Not a boy and a bit in the wick-
Dipping moon and drunk as a new dropped calf
Brandy and ripe in my bright, bass prime,
No springtailed torn in the red hot town.
In the second example, the cognate alliteration of the p-b explosives
and the assonance of ai link closely the words "Brandy," " bri ght, "
" pri me," and " spring- . " In the last stanza, continuants seem more
significant than explosives, as in "Now I am a man no more no more."
Secondly, in the first four stanzas of the poem a great variety of
metrical patterns appears, and the same pattern scarcely ever recurs
in the same stanza. At the close of "Lament," however, more regular
metrical patterns (to be analyzed later) occur. It seems fitting that
metrical irregularity should characterize the opening passages of the
poem, which concern the narrator' s former irregular and uncontrolled
life and that metrical regularity should characterize the passages
which concern his present, more regular and controlled life.
As to the rhyme scheme of "Lament," six rhymes occur, in the
pattern abcdabcdefef . Off- rhyme (usually in the form of final conso-
nance without assonance) is rather equally distributed throughout the
stanzas. In stanza V, a complicated rhyme relationship occurs between
lines 1 (with its line-end word "more"), 5 (with its line-end words
"bells jaw") and 7 (with its line-end words "bore angels") . For "more"
and "bore," "bells" and "angels" rhyme. Internal rhyme occurs in
several instances, among the most notable being "blind," "rind," "find"
(stanza IV) and "more," "roaring," and "bore" (stanza V) .
"Lament" utilizes incremental repetition of phrases in the
first three lines of each of the five stanzas. In the first line, the
phrase "¥nen I was a . . ."is repeated in four stanzas, with varia-
tions to designate the narrator's youth, manhood, prime, and middle
age. Stanza V advances the phrase to the present--"Now I am a . . ." —
to designate the narrator's old age. In the second line the phrase
"And the black ... of the ..." occurs in stanzas I, II, and III,
and (with substitutions) in stanzas IV and V. Tne third line offers
the fullest incremental repetition: "(Sighed the old ram rod,
dying of . . .)." Stanza I completes this line with "women," stanza
II with "bitches," stanza III with "welcome," stanza IV with "down-
fall," and stanza V with "strangers." The repetitions of these three
lines throughout the poem give structural unity to the piece, and the
variations throughout the poem advance or deepen its meaning.
"Lament" follows a general ballad style in both its heavily
accented and alliterated verse and in its incremental repetitions.
As previously mentioned, the number of speech-stressed syllables in
the lines varies greatly as compared to the total number of syllables
in the lines. For the most part, these heavy stresses fall toward the
end of the line; in seventeen lines three or more consecutively stressed
syllables conclude the line. Perhaps the most arresting of these is the
line "Oh, time enough when the blood creeps cold," where the use of
monosyllables, explosives, and consecutively stressed syllables forces
a slow tempo vmich enhances the literal meaning of the slow flow of
blood in the old and dying. The metrical irregularities in the early
stanzas only accentuate the strong metrical regularities in the con-
cluding lines (8-12) of the final stanza of the poem:
Harpies around me out of her womb'.
Chastity prays for me, piety sings,
Innocence sweetens my last black breath.
Modesty hides my thighs in her wings.
And all the deadly virtues plague my death'.
Here lines 8, 9, 10, and 11 are identical in the metrical pattern of
the first five syllables (a trochee followed by an amphibrach); indeed,
lines 8 and 11 are throughout identical metrically. Line S, except
for the addition of a final stressed syllable, is dactylic, and line
12 is completely iambic. Thus the ending provides a fitting climax
for the correlation between sound and meaning in "Lament," for in the
concluding line, expressing the old man's resignation — unwilling though
it may be — to death, the rhythmic pattern yields to complete regularity
and flowing smoothness.
"Poem on his Birthday," the last of Thomas's three birthday
poems, first appeared in October, 1951, in V7orld Review (New Series) .
This early version consisted of only nine stanzas of nine lines each.
Later Thomas revised the poem, adding three new stanzas, and in this
form it appeared in In Country Sleep and ultimately in the Collected
In structure "Poem on his Birthd^" is extremely elaborate.
The twelve stanzas contain nine lines each. As in "Lament," the verse
is rather strictly patterned in regard to the numoer of syllables in
each line, but the arrangement of speech-stressed syllables is quite
irregular. The odd-numbered lines have six syllables and the even-
numbered lines, nine syllables. There are only two departures from
this arrangement — stanza I, line 9, which lacks one syllable, and
stanza XI, line 5, vrfiich contains an extra syllable.
Number of Syllables
in Each Line
6 9 6 9 6 9 6 9 6
In contrast to this regularity, the number of speech-stressed syllables
varies (in no established pattern) from two to seven to the line.
"Poem on his Birthday" uses no rigid rhyme scheme, but, in
addition to scattered initial consonance and final consonance in the
line-end words, assonance occurs in a definite pattern, ababcdcdc.
I sun, scud
birds, spurns, spear
grave , age
II go, told
death, bell, bless
III fall, hawks
drowned, house, shroud
IV robe, knows
cloud, down, mouth
V swung, struck
stars, apart, dark
VII bare, dead
geese, priest, peace
VIII way, prays
hills, kick. Him
IX old, foam XI move, blooms
wild, shrined hulks, exults
vows, aground, aloud way, faith, praise
run, tongue then, said
X five, slime XII hills, sing
love, come brown, how
domes, bones, most ride, eyes, die
selves, flesh Oh, alone
Exceptions occur in the c rhyme of stanza I, in the b rhyme of stanza
IV, in the a rhyme of stanza VII, and throughout stanza \1. And the
overall pattern of assonance in the line-end words is unobtrusive and
Like most of Thomas's late poems, "Poem on his Birthday" is
studded with internal full-rhymes or approximate rhymes. In many
instances, one of the linked words is a line- end word: "cold," "told,"
(II, 2, 3) J "Waves," "ways " (II, 4, 5); "fly," "sky" (ill, 2, 4);
"drowned," "toras" (ill, 5, 6); "knells," "bells," "skull" (V, 2, 3,
4); "aground," "tumbledown" (IX, 7, 8); "kingdom come" (X, 4); "I,"
"die" (XII, S) .
In part the slow, lyrical effect of "Poem on his Birthday"
results from the general absence of sustained clusters of consonants
and from the frequency of words which begin or end in vowel sounds.
Numerous examples might be cited, such as
And far at sea he knows.
Who slaves to his crouched, £ternal end
Under a serpent cloud
Dark is a way and light is a place,
Heaven that never was
Nor will be ever is always true
But dark is a long way,
He, on the aarth of the night, alone
~ With all the living, prays.
As in much of Thomas' s most lyrical poetry, the ingenious use of explo-
sives and continuants is highly effective. Perhaps the most illumi-
nating passage in this respect in "Poem on his Birthday" is the stanza
describing the poet's ultimate and final blessing.
That the closer I move
To death, one man through his sundered hulks.
The louder the sun blooms
And the tusked, ramshackling sea exults;
And every wave of the way
And gale I tackle, the whole world then,
With more triumphant faith
Than ever was since the world was said,
Spins its morning of praise.
Continuants dominate most of the semantically important words of the
opening lines. Then sound and meaning provide a direct contrast:
clipped, pulsating explosives suggest the meaning of a vibrant, tri-
umphant life force in line 4, "And the tusked, ramshackling sea
exults." Assonance pervades the stanza, for the middle vowel a occurs
in "one," "sundered," "hulks," "sun," "tusked," "exults," and the high
vowel e occurs in "wave," "way," "gale," and "faith," Internal full
rhyme and approximate rhyme occur occasionally, as in "one," "sun," and
"ramshackling," "tackle," Such phonetic devices help create the beauty
of stanza XI.
Yet the unified effect of the eleventh stanza stems largely
from its total organization. In the stanza the odd-numbered lines
are shorter (usually containing two anapests or three iambs), and the
even-numbered lines are longer (usually containing four recognizable
metrical stresses) . Except for the addition of a short line at the
beginning, the stanza organization here — and throughout "Poem on his
Birthday" — approaches that of the ballad stanza. The alternation
between short and long lines produces a smooth cadence, partially
because the shorter lines are run-on. Stanza XI is, moreover, only
a section of a long poetic statement whose effect is that of one con-
tinuous, powerful crescendo. The meter accentuates the crescendo
because most lines begin smoothly and swiftly with an unstressed and
semantically unimportant word, till the surging ninth line opens
emphatically with an important, stressed expression: "Spins its morn-
ing of praise."
Following the climactic eleventh stanza, -.he conclusion sub-
sides into comparative simplicity and calm. In the final lines the
assonance of the dark vowel o and of the diphthong _3i dominate the
More spanned with angels ride
The mansouled fiery islands'. Oh,
Holier then their eyes.
And my shining men no more alone
As I sail out to die.
In the light of the preceding chapters, it is apparent that
Thomas developed in auditory techniques from the staccato nature of
the early poetry to the legato nature of the later poetry. He
achieved an orchestration in three general ways: (l) by his arrange-
ment of stresses; (2) by his choice of sounds; (3) by his arrangement
In its arrangement of stresses, Tnomas's poetry reveals a pro-
gression from a poetry of rather strong metrical stress, to a poetry
of flowing cadence. In the early poetry the metrical pattern is rela-
tively regular; "From love's first fever to her plague," "The hand
that signed the paper," "Should lanterns shine," and "When all my five
and country senses see" (for example) all tend toward an iambic pat-
tern. Other factors also contribute to the strongly stressed rhythm
in the early poems — the widespread use of words with high striking
power, of monosyllables, and of end-stopped lines. In the later
poetry the patterns of metrical stress are more diverse and irregular.
In general, the ratio of stressed to unstressed words is smaller than
in the early period. Further, the structure of the later poems is
more fluid, especially in that the lines (and frequently the para-
graphs or stanzas themselves) are run-on.
In the choice of sounds, Thomas' s poetry reveals a distinct
progression toward a phonetic "symbolism." To varying degrees the
sound echoes the meaning in his poetry. In the early period sound
usually enhances meaning only in a phrase or line. In a poem of the
middle period, frequently two sections i^ich contrast in meaning will
also contrast in predominant sounds. (In '"If my head hurt a hair's
foot'" the child's speech is characterized more by explosives, the
mother's speech, more by continuants; in "Once below a time" the
description of the immature poet is characterized more by explosives,
the description of the mature poet, more by continuants.) In the
late poetry, sound and meaning are more frequently integrated; passages
in which sound echoes meaning are often sustained. Since Thomas's
choice of sounds becomes increasingly selective and increasingly
related to the emotional meaning of the poetry, and since the tone of
his poetry becomes increasingly hymnic and expansive, it is not sur-
prising that the types of sounds predominant in Thomas's poetry change.
Generally, the early poetiy is marked by its frequency of effective
consonantal clusters, particularly of explosives (p, t, k, b, d, and
g) . In contrast, the later poetry is marked by its frequency of effec-
tive vowels, its avoidance of any very continuous use of harsh conso-
nantal clusters, and the prevalence of continuants (especially _s, 1,
m, and r) . That a correlation between particular consonants and emo-
tional effects is a valid assumption can be supported by Charles W.
Fox's research in this area of experimental psychology. His studies
See "An Experimental Study of Naming," American Journal of
Psychology, XL VII (October, 1935), 545-579.
indicate that — vri.thout any formal instructions suggesting this partic-
ular scale of attributes — his subjects associated certain soiinds with
dominant and salient characteristics. Such sounds as i , z, and k
were designated as sharp or angular, and such sounds as m, u, 1, and b
were designated as round, smooth, or voluminous.
Thomas' s development is, however, more pronounced in the
arrangement of sounds than in the arrangement of stresses or even in
the choice of sounds. Many early poems resort to glaring repetitions,
such as phrasal or syntactical repetitions which fail to broaden or
deepen significantly the poem's meaning (like the repetitions based
on the phrase "vmere no sun shines" in "Light breaks where no sun
shines"), or even sometimes mere "self-plagiarism" (like the repeti-
tion of certain vague words, only seldom justified) , Gradually, how-
ever, the arrangements of sound become more subtle, varied, and per-
vasive. The complex and diffused auditory patterns in these later
poems prove that assonance, alliteration, full and approximate rhyme
(both internally and at line-end) form the basis of Thomas's distinc-
tive instrumentation. Thomas strove consciously for unobtrusive yet
rich verbal effects and came to distrust obvious and easy sound pat-
terns. Speaking of rhyme words, Thomas once commented, "Rhymes are
coming to me naturally, too, which I distrust; I like looking for
connections, not finding them tabulated in stations." Such a pre-
occupation with words is understandable. From an early age, Thomas
was interested in "the shapes of sounds," as Daniel Jones (his
^LW, p. 36.
boyhood companion) substantiates in his accounts of their games of
"serious play" involving collaboration in prose and poetry. And in
the later poetry it is as if Thomas were dealing in verbal alchemy,
so complex and effective are the auditory patterns. "Fern Hill" and
"Poem in October" — to mention only two — are radiant lyrics abounding
in haunting melodic reverberations. Indeed in most of the later poetry,
Thomas's artistic devices reveal greater refinement and his total
structure shows greater organic unity than in the early pieces.
Thomas' s manipulation of affinitive sound patterns in the late
poems is intricate and meaningful; it transcends a merely felicitous
combination of words. Tnomas's oral reading, on the radio and in
poetry lectures, helped him realize the necessity for correlating
sound and meaning. By his own assertion, his later poetry attempts to
achieve simplicity and lyricism by harmonizing sound and meaning.
Proof that his late poetry is more successfvil than his early poetry-
lies in the fact that in the lyrics Thomas does often communicate imme-
diately to the listener or reader the synthesis between sound and mean-
ing which he tried to achieve. At such a poetic level, sound and mean-
ing are inseparable in creating a memorable emotional experience.
Thomas's progression in the relationship in his poetry between
sound and meaning is, then, quite clear: the early poems are rela-
tively complex and obscure in meaning and relatively simple and obvious
in auditory patterns; the later poems are relatively simple in meaning
See "Dylan Thomas: Memories and Appreciations," Encounter,
II (January, 1954), 9-10.
and relatively complex in auditory patterns. Further, the later
poetry — in contrast to the earlier — reveals a more sustained balance
between sound and meaning.
This study has attempted to illuminate certain aspects of the
sound and meaning in Thomas's poetry. It could not, of course, be
definitive or altogether conclusive. Since poetry is an emotional,
not a rational procedure, analysis of some of the subtlest and loveli-
est auditory effects is impossible. As Thomas said, "You can struggle
ifri-th rhyme and metre and style and still not have a poem." Yet a
poem of high excellence necessarily involves auditory techniques,
rhythm, and style, and an understanding of these elements at least
contribute s to an appreciation of "moments of magical accident"
T-Iarjorie Adix, "Dylan Thomas: Memories and Appreciations,"
Encounter, II (January, 1954), 13.
M EXAMIMTION OF THE PROBLEM OF PITCH ANALYSIS
I am particularly indebted to Professor Clifton C. Hill and
Mr. James E. Hansen for help in examining the problem of pitch analysis.
It was an original purpose of this dissertation to play all
available tapes and records of Dylan Thomas reading his own poems to
an instrument which would record graphically the relative variations
of the frequencies in his own voice versus time. By analyzing the
graphs of audio-frequency, one might throw light upon such problems
in Thomas's poetry as the degree of consistency in his readings of a
particular poem and the relations between the patterns of audio-
frequencies, consonants, vowels, and striking power, as well as the
total relation of these four aspects of sound to meaning.
Because of the interesting and valuable literary studies which
such an instrument of pitch analysis could make possible, it seems
appropriate to present here iirformation on this subject.
Conferences with numerous authorities and communication with
various laboratories concerned with acoustical problems led to the
conclusion that three methods could be used.
So tediously difficult is the first method that a student of
literature unfamiliar with the physics of sound could hardly hope to
make use of it. It involves the analysis of the oscillographic repre-
sentation of the spoken word. This process, called Fourier series,
represents any wave form in terms of sine and cosine functions— i.e.,
fundamental and harmonic pitches of the human voice. Tne approach
toward this method :i s the half-range rule of expansions, which enables
one to examine the nonperiodic wave-form by defining any portion of
the wave form into a period. This method would also give only sine or
cosine terras, depending on choice of reference. The limitation to
sine or cosine terms simplifies the solution in that only half the
calculations are reouired. The following is the Fourier series.
f(t) = the wave form of the spoken word over some finite interval
f(t) r. — ■*" ^1 ^°^ ^"^^ ■*■ ^2 "^^^ ^"^ "*" ^n ^'^^ ""^ "*" ■''
b-| cos luit + bp cos Z^t + b cos nwt + ...
In this analysis — - represents the constant portion of intensity of
speech, and, as already mentioned, one set of sine or cosine terms can
be eliminated through the proper choice of a suitable axis. The problem
encountered is thus the evaluation of the coefficients a^^ or b^^, for
when these constants are evaluated the analysis is complete. These
constants are defined as below:
a^ = — y f(t) cos nut d ( lot)
b„ = — /• f(t) sin ncot d ( <ot)
n TT "^
^The recording of the complete poem would be a nonperiodic
function — i.e., the 'lound patterns would not recur in cycles.
to p (the limits of integration— i.e. , the interval of periodicity)
define the period chosen. Because of the character of the wave form
to be analyzed, the wave form or its derivatives may exhibit sharp
discontinuities. It will be necessary, therefore, to carry n to high
values to obtain convergence of the series. And, too, each value of n
requires a complete evaluation of the above equation (and will range
from 1 to values in the order of thousands) . Yet this complex method
of half -range expansions is necessary, because the wave form of human
speech is a nonperiodic function. It is obvious in the above equa-
tions that the function f(t) is not readily defined in an algebraic
expression. Therefore the numerical solution will be obligatory.
The process will involve integrating small segments of the wave form—
i.e., one millisecond per segment — numerically, as explained in
Electrical Engineering Circuits , Chapter 14. Because of the amount
of data (the wave-form— e.g. , one side of a record— may be as long as
half an hour), this numerical integration process will be most for-
midable and time-consuming and should be expeditiously evaluated on
the IBM type 650 digital computer. If the computer is used, however,
it will have to be programmed for the problem--a time-consuming pro-
cess in itself.
Secondly, a less accurate but perhaps quicker method (the suc-
cess of which is likely to remain doubtful) is a visual examination
of the oscillographic representation of the poem. Since fragments
^Hugh Hildreth Skilling, Electrical Engineering Circuits
(New York: Johr Wiley & Sons, 1961), pp. 403-449.
of the output will contain readily definable oscillations, their fre-
quencies might be determined with the aid of accurate time-reference
signals simultaneously imposed with the speech on the recording. These
time-reference marks will enable one to check the time duration between
successive crossings, of the time-reference axis, by the wave form.
Rather elaborate electronic equipment will be necessary to supply these
reference-marks, in addition to highly developed techniques for such
a recording. From the data obtained about the crossings, one could
then possibly make a relatively accurate conclusion about the funda-
mental pitch present at that time. This method will enable one only
to spot check the wave form where the wave form is most regular. These
regularities will occur primarily when simple-toned sounds, such as
the vowels, are repeated. Although the method will give only spot
checks, it is possible that it might supply a great deal of informa-
tion. But very expensive oscillographic instruments and many hours
of laborious examination of wave forms would be needed.
The third method is to use the Sona-Graph designed by Bell
Laboratories and manufactured by Kay Electric Company, Maple Avenue,
Pine Brook, New Jersey. This instrument, widely used in measurements
of speech, records frequency and intensity versus time. It may be
ideally suited for the needs of literary studies, but it was not avail-
able to the author. Moreover, the Sona-Graph sells for about ^2,000,
and G. G. Conn, Ltd. asserts that its Sona-Graph has proved a "trou-
blesorae instrument" and has had to be almost completely rebuilt.
2ln a letter of March 4, 1959, from Mr. Paul M. Gazlay (Chair-
man of the Board) .
The Sona-Graph also requires a conpiderable amount of maintenance.
In view of the expensiveness and questionable performance of the
Sona-Graph, it would hardly be advisable to purchase it for any exact-
ing literary study. If, however, one were readily accessible, the
instrument might prove useful.
Because the necessary apparatus and skills were not available
to the author, it was impossible to carry out any of these three
methods. The project involves basically the problem of presenting
and recording visual detail that corresponds closely with auditory-
detail. But with adequate electronic equipment, with a liberal budget
(including funds for film for the oscillograph or Sona-Graph), and
with the full cooperation of a department of electrical engineering,
a future researcher may be successful in analysing the audio-frequen-
cies of the recorded human voice and in making a valuable contribution
to literary studies.
A.ND DEATH SHALL HAVE NO DOMINION
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
¥nen their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Tnough they be mad and dead as nails.
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down.
And death shall have no dominion.
AncJ o/eor//? sha/l >7cy\^e tno olotminion" — S^'-essec/ c^nal 'VAri^'z-esseo/ Su/lath/r.t
y^nd d<zcLth shcx/Z have, no dominion - SyoeecA-^ /"r-^sseo/ sy//a-6/es
IN m CRAPT OR SULLEN ART
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
■ Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivor>' stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I vrrite
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Ro\md the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.
ift or So'/c/^ ^/-A — Si'fK.ftiv.d ai/->ai '-/'^^ -/-r-^&saa/
/ /ex in /«S
/n _ \
\ i M
r\ ; N A A ''
/^. r I /v \ ;
/ ! V J
1 / ; V-
/ : ii /
/ I /
\i 11 /
I'n '■ri--, Cr :> r r oa- Sulle.ri /\f-r' — Sjc,^<z.ch - ^rr-'^.^^iz.d sy// '»''">/<£6
DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT
s((} Do not go gentle into that good night,
\S I ' Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
> Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
^%)W*^ Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, ray father, there on the sad height.
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
/v >A'W /
y^^^v - ^ v-v-v vT^v/vV^vs
"Oo nc^/- .
oo ae^'^'<d /nto truyt qood mat-it ' 3/-^ vi ii<r V >^;r /'; jT^^iS.' ■> : y
v/v" v-^'\ /^y-^y^
Co not po ae.nf/^ it-ito that- ^aoci n/aht-"— 5/3<zec>? -^f r-«5sco/ sy//arife/«s.
ALPHABETIZED INDEX OF DYLAN THOMAS'S
COLLECTED POEMS 1954-1952
Dent Edition Edition^
After the funeral (In memory of Ann Jones) . . 87 96
All all and all the dry worlds lever 33 53
Altarwise by owl-light 71 go
Among those Killed in the Dawn Raid was
a Man Aged a Hundred I35 3_5g
And death shall have no dominion 68 77
Author's Prologue vii yii
Ballad of the Long-legged Bait 149 166
Because the pleasure-bird whistles 77 86
Before I knocked 7 g
Ceremony After a Fire Raid 129 145
Conversation of Prayer, The 100 ixi
Deaths and Entrances II7 igg
Do not go gentle into that good night .... 116 igg
Do you not father me 46 ' 54"
Ears in the turrets hear 58 67
^legy 179 200
Especially when the October wind 16 ig
Fern Hill 159
Find meat on bones 65
force that through the green fuse drives
the flower, The 9
Foster the light 60 69
From love's first fever to her plague .... 20 24
grief ago, A 54 gg
Grief thief of time 67 76
hand that signed the paper, The 62
Here in this spring 45
TThe form of the titles is that which appears before the
respective poems in the Dent edition.
It is necessary to inform the unwary reader that the New
Directions edition— though caUed the Augmented Edition on the paper
jacket— adds no new material to the Dent edition and differs only in
frontispiece and pagination.
Hold hard, these ancient minutes in
the cuckoo's month
How shall my animal
How soon the servant sun
Hunchback in the Park, The
I dreamed my genesis
I fellowed sleep
I have longed to move away
I, in my intricate image
I make this in a warring absence
(Poem to Caitlin)
I see the boys of summer
If I were tickled by the rub of love . .
"If my head hurt a hair's foot" ....
In country sleep
In my Craft or Sullen Art
In the beginning
In the white giant ' s thigh
Into her Lying Down Head
It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell . .
Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed
Light breaks where no sun shines ....
Love in the Asylum
My hero bares his nerves
My world is pyramid
Not from this anger
make me a mask
On a Wedding Anniversary
On no work of words
On the Marriage of a Virgin
Once below a time
Once it was the colour of saying . . . . .
Our eunuch dreams
Out of the sighs ,
Over Sir John's hill ,
Poem in October
Poem on his birthday ,
process in the weather of the heart, A . ,
Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a
Child in London, A
saint about to fall, A
Title _^ Page
Shall gods be said to thump the clouds .
Should lanterns shine
spire cranes, The
Then was my neophyte
There was a Saviour
This bread I break
This Side of the Truth (for Llewelyn) .
To Others than Tou
To-day, this insect
tcxnbstone told -vrfien she died, The . . .
Unluckily for a Death
Vision and Prayer
Was there a time
We lying by seasand
When all ray five and country senses see
When I Woke
When, like a running grave
When once the twilight locks no longer .
Where once the waters of your face . . .
Why east wind chills
Winter's Tale, A
THOMAS'S READING AND RECORDING ITINERARY IN AMERICA
Most of the following entries are culled from John Malcolm
Brinnin's Dylan Thomas in America . For one third of them, however,
I am even more directly Indebted to Professor Brinnin, who was so kind
as to compile the requested information for me from his personal, scat-
tered records. Although the listing is probably incomplete, it is the
first attempt to reconstruct Thomas's reading and recording itinerary
TRIP I; February 21, 1950 (Tuesday)— May 31, 1950 (Wednesday)
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
New Haven, Conn.
South Hadley, Mass,
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
February 23, 1950
February 25, 1960
February 28, 1950
(Tuesday, late afternoon)
March 1, 1950
March 2, 1950
March 2, 1950
March 3. 1950
March 7, 1950
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
Recordings of his poems
for John L. Sweeney's
collection in Lamont
Library, Harvard Uni-
Mount Holyoke College
Bryn Mawr College
For personal reminiscence e of this reading, see Richard
Eberhart's "Some Memories of Dylan Thomas," Yale Literary Magazine ,
CXXII (November, 1954), 5-6. This article is reprinted in Tedlock's
collection of essays, pp. 55-56.
The Institute of March 8, 1950
Contemporary Arts (Wednesday evening)
New York, N.Y.
Notre Dame, Ind,
lovra City, Iowa
Vancouver, B . C . ^
Los Angeles, Cal.
March 9, 1950
March 13, 1950
March 14, 1950
March 15, 1950
March 16, 1950
March 17, 1950
March 20, 1950
March 21 1950
April 4, 1950
April 6, 1950
April 7 1950
April 10, 1950
April 11. 1950
Santa Barbara, Cal. April 13, 1950
April 17, 1950
^See Floris McLaren' s "Dylan Thomas
Verse, No. 31 (Spring, 1950), 26-27.
Recordings of his poems
at the Library of
The University of Chicago
Notre Dame University
The University of Illinois
The State University
The University of
The University of
The University of
The University of Cali-
fornia at Los Angeles
Santa Barbara Museum and
Santa Barbara College
in Vancouver," Contemporary
San Francisco, Cal.
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
Welle sley, Mass.
April 18. 1950
April 24, 1950
April 24, 1950
April 26, 1950
April 27, 1950
May 1, 1950
(Monday, late afternoon)
San Francisco State
Museum of Modem Art
The Creative Writing
Collection of the
IMiversity of Florida
^From a letter by Gene Baro and from talks with staff members at
the University of Florida who attended Thomas's Gainesville reading, the
following account is derived i Through the initiative of Gene Baro, the
Creative Writing Collection of the University of Florida Library spon-
sored a lecture by Dylan Thomas. Although Thomas's engagement was ori-
ginally projected for April 20, 1950, the poet telegraphed Baro from
San Francisco to say he was ill and unable to make the scheduled lecture.
Since Baro had no address for Thomas, apart from Western Union, he con-
tacted John Malcolm Brinnin and arranged a new date for Thomas's lecture.
At 8j00 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, 1950, at the Florida Union Auditor-
ium, Thomas was introduced by Dr. Thomas Pyles and began his readings.
Among the selections were poems by Hardy, Yeats, Auden, and Betjeman
(including "The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel"). Of his
own works Thomas read only a few, among them, "A Refusal to Mourn the
Death, by Fire, of a Child in London." Although publicity was better
for Thomas's projected lecture on April 20 than it was for the actual
lecture on April 27, the program was rather well attended. No record-
ing was made, because the contract was only for a reading. Thomas
stayed in Gainesville at Gene Baro's apartment three or four days.
A day or two after the lecture, Baro and Thomas, alone together, read
poetry to one another most of the night; the next morning after break-
fast Baro persuaded Thomas to make a tape, which is now on deposit in
the University Library's Audio- Visual department. The recording is of
seven early poemsi "From love's first fever to her plague," "Especially
when the October wind," "It is the sinners' dust-tongued bell," "'If my
head hurt a hair's foot'," "The hand that signed the paper," "Once below
a time," and "When all my five and country senses see."
Ann Arbor, Mich.
May 2, 1950
May 3, 1950
May 4, 1950
May 5, 1950
May 5, 1950
Poughkeepsie, N.Y. May 9, 1950
May 10, 1950
Kaufraann Auditorium May 15, 1950
New York, N.Y. (Monday evening)
New York, N.Y.
May 18, 1950
The University of
Wayne State University
Lecture on his work with
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
First full recital of
prose — selections from
A Portrait of the Art -
ist as a Young Dog
TRIP ll! January 20, 1952 (Sunday)— May 16, 1952 (Friday)
New York, N.Y.
January 50. 1952
Kaufinann Auditorium January 31, 1952
New York, N.Y. (Thursday)
Kaufmann Auditorium Febiniary 2, 1952
New York, N.Y. (Saturday)
New York, N.Y.
February 5, 1952
The YM-YWHA. Poetry Center
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
Museum of Modern Art
Washington, Tj.C. February 8, 1952
Institute of Contem-
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
Burlington, Vt .
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
Washington, D . C .
tute of Technol-
February 13, IS 5 2
February 14, 1952
February 15, 1952
February 18, 1952
February 21, 1952
February 22, 1952
February 24, 1952
February 26, 1952
February 28, 1952
February 29, 1952
March 1, 1952
March 4 1952
March 5, 1952
March 7. 1952
The New School for
New York University
The University of
Museum of Modem Art
New York University
Recordings of his poems
for Caedmon Publishers
(TC 1002, Dylan Thomas
Cherry Lane Theatre
Bennett Junior College
Institute of Contem-
The JohiB Hopkins
Introduction to the read-
ing taped live, poems
recorded later in the
studio (Caedmon TC
1043, Dylan Thomas
March 7, 1952
Brattle Theatre March 10, 1952
Cambridge, Mass.'^ (Monday evening)
Boston, Mass. March 11. 1952
New York, N.Y.
March 12, 1952
Saratoga Springs, NY. March 13, 1952
New York, N.Y.
March 16, 1962
University Park, Pa. March 17, 1952
San Francisco, Cal. April S, 1952
Vancouver, B.C. April 8, 1952
Vancouver, B.C. April 9, 1952
April 10, 1952
April 15. 1952
San Francisco, Cal. April 16, 1952
Salt Lake City, Utah April 18, 1952
April 21, 1952
De Cordova Museum
The Poets' Theatre
The New School for
Pennsylvania State Uni-
San Francisco State
University of British
A local sponsor
"University of Washington
University of California
San Francisco Museum
University of Utah
University of Mlsso\iri
See Eberhart, pp. 5-6 (in Tedlock, pp. 56-57), for personal
reminiscences of this reading.
New Orleans, La.
[The only instance of
New York, N.Y.
(?) Washington, D.C,
New York, N.Y.
April 23, 1952
April 24, 1952
April 25, 1952
April 28, 1952
Thomas's failure to
April 30, 1952
(?) May 5, 1952
May 7, 1952
May 8, 1952
May 12, 1952
May 13, 1952
May 14, 1952
May 15, 1952
fulfill an engagement J
( ?) Institute of Contem-
University of Connecticut
Sarah Lawrence College
Duncan Phillips Gallery
The YM-YWHA. Poetry Center
TRIP III! April 21, 1953 (Tuesday)— June 3, 1953 (Wednesday)
April 25, 1953
Bennington, Vt. April 27, 1955 Bennington College
(Monday, late afternoon)
April 28. 1953
Woman' s College
New York, N.Y.
April 29, 1953
May 1, 1953
May 3, 1953
May 4, 1953
May 5, 1953
May 8, 1953
Auditorium of the (?) May 9, 1953
Ethical Culture (evening)
Society on Rit-
The Poets' Theatre
The Poets' Theatre
The unfinished Under
Milk Wood presented
in a solo performance
Institute of Contempor-
Public Lecture Committee
and the Department of
English of Randolph-
Macon Woman's College
The IM-YWHA Poetry Center
^According to Mise W. T. Weathers, no recording of Thomas's lec-
ture was made. But she and a colleague recall that Thomas "did not read
a great many of his own poems, and showed a very modest attitude in this
respect." After some comments on poetry in general, Thomas read poems by
Yeats and possibly by Auden. Of his own poems he read "Fern Hill," "Do
not go gentle into that good night, " "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by
Fire, of a Child in London," and probably also "The Hunchback in the Park"
and "In my Craft or Sullen Art." (From a letter of mid-October, 1961.)
^Through the kindness of Daniel G. Hoffman, I am able to summar-
ize from his letter dated November 6, 1961, concerning Thomas's lecture
in Philadelphia. He recalls that Thomas prefaced the poems with his
prose sketch "A Visit to America" and that among the poems he read were
Henry Reed's "Chard Whitlow" and his own "Do not go gentle into that
good night" and "Lament." Of Thomas's performance, Professor Hoffman
says that "he gave the most electrifying literary program the city has
ever known." A recording was made of the lecture, and a copjy exists in
the archive of Swarthmore College.
May 11, 1955
May 12, 1953
May 13, 1953
Kaufmann Auditorium May 14, 1953
New York, N.Y. (Thursday evening)
May 20, 1953
Kaufhann Auditorium May 24, 1953
New York, N.Y. (Sunday evening)
Kaufmann Auditorium May 28, 1953
New York, N.Y. (Thursday)
New York, N.Y.
June 2, 1955
The University of
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
Premiere perfonnance of
Under Milk Wood .
(Recorded by Caedmon
Publishers on TC 2005)
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
Second performance of
Under Milk Wood
Recordings of his poems
for Caedmon Publishers
(TC 1018, Dylan Thomas
TRIP IV: October 19, 1953 (Monday) —November 9, 1955 (Monday)
New York, N.Y.
New York, N.Y.
October 24, 1953
October 25, 1955
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
Third performance of
Under Milk Wood
The YM-YWHA Poetry Center
Fourth and greatest per-
formance of Under Milk
Wood and the last per-
formance of it in
which Thomas partic-
Place Date Sponsor
New York, N.Y. October 28 1953 City College of New York
New York, N.Y. October 28, 1955 Symposivroi on film art
(Wednesday evening) arranged by Cinema 16
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PRIMAHY SOURCES: WORKS BY DYLA.N THOMAS
Adventures In the Skin Trade and Other Stories . Norfolk, Conn.:
New Directions, 1955.
A Child's Christmas In Wales . Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1955.
Collected Poems 1954-1S52 . London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1957.
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas . New York: New Directions, 1957.
Deaths and Entrances . London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1955.
The Doctor and the Devils . London: J. M. Dent St Sons, Ltd., 1955.
"Dylan Thomas on Reading his Poetryj introduction to a poetry reading, "
Mademoiselle , XLIII (July, 1956), 54-S7.
18 Poems . London: The Sunday Referee and The Parton Bookshop, 1934.
In Country Sleep . New York: New Directions, 1952.
Letters to Vernon Watklns . Edited by Vamon Watkina. New York:
tJew Directions, 1957.
The Map of Love: Verse and Prose. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.,
New Poems . Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1934.
"On Poetry: A Discussion" with James Stephens and Gerald Bullett.
Encounter , III (November, 1954), 23-26.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog . Norfolk, Conn.; New Directions,
A Prospect of the Sea and other stories and prose writings . Edited by
Daniel Jones. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1957.
Quite Early One Morning . Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1954.
Selected Writings of Dylar Thomas . Edited by John L. Sweeney. New York:
New Directions. 1946.
"Seven Letters to Oscar Williams (1945-1953)," New World Writing .
Seventh Mentor Selection. New York: The New American Library
of World Literature, Inc., 1955, pp. 128-140.
Twenty-Five Poems . Londom J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1936.
Twenty- Six Poems . London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1950.
Under Milk Wood . Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1954.
The World I Breathe . Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1939.
All secondary sources except Expllcator Items — which are self-
explanatory — are briefly annotated.
Some of the following Items are reprinted In E. W. Tedlock's
Dylan Thomasi the Legend and the Poet, a Collection of Biographical
and Critical Essays or in J. M. Brlnnln's A_ Casebook on Dylan Thomas ,
or both. One asterisk (♦) before an article Indicates that it appears
in Tedlock, two asterisks («♦) that it appears in the Casebook , and
three asterisks (**#) that it appears in both books.
Books and Monographs
Amhelm, Rudolf, Auden, W. H., Shapiro, Karl, and Stauffer, Donald A.
Poets at Workt Essays based on the Modern Poetiy Collection
at the Lockwood Memorial Library, tfeilversity of Buffalo.
New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948. [Pp. 53-54, 60,
164, 178-179. Brief notes on Thomas's poetry with a facsimile
of a work sheet for the "Ballad of the Long-legged Bait."]
Bayley, John. The Romantic Survivalt A Study of Poetic Evolution .
Londom Constable and Ccanpany, Ltd., 1957. [Chapter X;
"Dylan Thomas," pp. 186-227. A consideration of Thomas's
poetic words as "things."]
Bevington, Helen. When Fotind. Make a Verse Of . New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1961. [A rich and witty miscellany which includes a
personal reminiscence of Dylan Thcsnas at Duke University in
Brinnin, John Malcolm (ed.). A Casebook on Dylan Thomas . New York:
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1960. [A casebook containing ten
poems by Thomas, thirty-five reprinted observations and analyses
by various authors, and 368 bibliographical entries.]
. Dylan Thomas in America; An Intimate Journal . New York:
The Viking Press, 1958. [A record of Thomas's four trips to
the United States.]
Bullough, Geoffrey. The Trend of Modern Poetry . London: Oliver and
Boyd, Inc., 1949. [Pp. 217-Z2l. A criticism and commentary on
Thomas's poetry in a chapter entitled "Surrealism, the New
Apocalypse . " ]
Cornell, Kenneth. The Symbolist Movement. New Haven: Yale University
Press, 19 51"! [k chronological history of the publications and
criticism connected with the Symbolist Movement. ]
Day-Lewi S) C[ecil]. The Poetic Image . New York: Oxford University
Press, 1947. [Pp. 122-128. A publication of the Clark Lec-
tures given at Cambridge in 1946, containing a discussion of
Thomas's imagery, primarily in respect to "After the Funeral."]
Deutsch, Babette. Poetry in Our Time . New York: Columbia University
Press, 1956"^ [Pp. viii, 331-547. A commentary on Thomas's
Dewey, Godfrey. Relativ Frequency of English Speech Sounds . Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University PressJ 1950. Revised edition.
[A study of the relative frequency of vowel and consonant sounds,
revealing that a comparatively small part of the coranoner words,
syllables, or sounds of English form, by their frequent repeti-
tions, a large part of ordinary speech.]
Drew, Elizabeth, and Sweeney, John L. Directions in Modern Poetry .
New York: W. W. Norton St Company, Inc., 1940. [Pp. 110-112,
184, 201, 221, 252, 258, 263, 279. Brief notes on Thomas's
art and craft. ]
Durrell, Lawrence. A Key to Modem British Poetry . Norman, Okla.:
The University of Oklahoma Press, 1952. [Chapter X: "Poetry
in the Thirties," pp. 196-208. A study in contrasts: Dylan
Thomas and William Empson.]
Frankenberg, Lloyd. Pleasure Dome: On Reading Modern Poetry . Garden
City, N. Y. : Double d ay & Company, InoT [1961J. [A Dolphin
Paperback, Part Seven: "Seven Poets," #5 — Dylan Thomas,
pp. 325-331. A discussion of Thomas's three approaches to
fantasy in his poetry. P. 363. A checklist of principal ed-
itions by Thomas. Pp. 374-375. A checklist of principal
recordings by Thomas.]
Fraser, G[eorge] S[utherland] . Dylan Thomas . London: Longmans, Green
& Co., Ltd., 1957. [A study of Thomas's poetry ^ioh includes
fi^quent references to other criticisms of his poetry. ]
Friar, Kimon, and Brinnin, John Malcolm (eds.). Modem Poetry: American
and British . New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1951.
[Pp. 540-541. A note on Thomas which discusses "Vision and
Prayer" and "In Memory of Ann Jones."]
Frye, Northrop (ed.). Sound and Poetry . English Institute Essays,
1956. New Yorkj Columbia University Press, 1957. [Six essays
on sound and poetry, among them Craig La Driere's "Structure,
Sound, and Meaning," pp. 85-108.]
Goodfellow, Dorothy W. "Dylan Thomas, 'The Boy of Summer'," in
Lectures on Some Modem Poets , Carnegie Series in English
No. 2 (Pittsburg: Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1955),
pp. 77-90. [An explication of "I see the boys of sununer."]
Graves, Allen Wallace. Difficult Contemporary Short Stories t William
Faulkner, Katherlna Ajine Porter, Dylan Thomas, Eudora Welty
and Virginia VfooT? ! Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University
of Washington, 1954. [A dissertation which analyzes one "easy"
Thomas story— "Patricia, Edith and Arnold"— and two "difficult"
ones— "The Burning Baby" and "The Orchards."]
♦•Graves, Robert. The Crowning Privileget Collected Essays on Poetry .
New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1956. [P. 37} from the
1954-1955 Clark Lecture VI, entitled "These Be Your Gods,
Israeli" pp. 119-182, 138-142. A biting criticism of Thomas's
poetry as senseless so\ind.]
ature and N ature .
The Ha rp of Aeolus and Other Essays on Art
London ' »— — = -
lAO cuAt-j wuAX PX liJocjiajftj yjii xi J u , -Liter —
George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1947.
"How Much Me Now Your Acrobatics Amaze," pp. 151-
160. A criticism of Thomas's poetry as a "meaningless hot sprawl
of mud." Contrast Grigson's more sympathetic treatment of Thcmas
ten years later in his article, "Recollections of Dylan Thomas,"
London Magazine , IV, September, 1957, 39-45.]
Halperen, Max. "Dylan Thomas: A Soliloquy, " Florida State University
Studies , XI: "Monographs in English and American Literature"
(1953), 117-141. [An evaluation of Thomas as a remarkable minor
poet limited by repetitious imagery and insufficient range of
Heppenstall, Rayner. Four Absentees . London:
1960. [Personal reminiscences of four dead fidends:
Barrie and Rockliff ,
Thomas, Eric A. Blair (George Orwell), J. Middleton Murry, and
Hofflnan, Frederick J. Freudianism and the Literary Mind . Baton Rouge,
La.; Louisiana State University Press, 1945. [Pp. 279, 295-299.
Primarily a treatment of three Freudian elements in Thomas's
**Holroyd, Stuart. Emergence from Chaos . Boston; Houghton Mifflin Com-
pany, 1957*; [Part IJ, Chapter I: "Dylan Thomas and the Reli-
gion of the Instinctive Life," pp. 77-94. A treatment of Thomas
as a primitive whose poetic excellence arose from an engaging
simplicity of vision.]
Hornick, Lit a. The Intricate Image; A Study of Dylan Thomas . Unpub-
lished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1958. [A study
of the structure and meaning of Thomas's poems from the stand-
point of their imagery. ]
Jenkins, David Clay. Writing in Twentieth Century Wales; A Defense of
the Angla-WelsF i Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. State Univer-
sity of Iowa, 1956. [A study of Caradoc Evans, Richard Hughes,
and Dylan Thomas.]
Jones, Daniel. An Outline of English Phonetics . 5th edition. Cam-
bridge: W. Heffer it Sons, Ltd., 1936. [A study of speech
sounds; their formation, their attributes, and their relation
to other aspects of language.]
. The Pronunciation of English . 4th edition. Cambridge;
The University Press, 19567 [A study of the pronunciation of
English, with notations of the variations occurring in Scot-
land and Wales.]
Kaplan, Milton Allen. Radio and Poetry . New York; Columbia University
Press, 1949. [P. 159. A note referring to Thcanas's use of
assonance, internal and "slant" rhymes, to enrich the tonal
quality of his verse.]
Maud, Ralph Noel. Language and Meaning in the Poetry of Dylan Thomas .
Unpubl ished PhTD. dissertation^ Harvard University, 1958.
[A study of language and meaning in Thomas's poetry, with
valuable chronologies, bibliographies, and other tables.]
Melchiori, Qiorgio. The Tightrope Walkers; Studies of Mannerian in
Modem English Literature . London; Routledge & Kegan Paul,
1956. [Chapter on "Dylan Thomas: The Poetry of Vision,"
pp. 213-242} scattered references throughout the book. An ex-
amination of Thomas's poetry with special emphasis upon the
influences on his style.]
Miles, Josephine. The Continuity of Poetic Language; Studies in Eng-
lish Poetry from the 1540's to the 1940' s . University of
California Publications in English, XIX. Berkeley and Los
Angeles; University of California Press, 1951. [Section III;
"The Primary Language of Poetry in the 1940' s," pp. 385-542.
A listing of Thomas's most used adjectives, nouns, and verbs
in the first 1000 lines of his Selected Writings } an application
of Thomas's count of words to the literary description and
evaluation of his poetry.]
Miller, James E., Jr., Shapiro, Karl, and Slote, Bemice. Start with
the Sun; Studies in Cosmic Poetry . Lincoln, Nebr.1 The
University of Nebraska Press, 1960. [An examination of the
Western tradition as seen in the work of Walt Whitman,
D. H. Lawrence, Hart Crane, and Dylan Thomas.]
Muir, Edwin. The Present Age from 1914 . ( Introductions to Literature ,
vol. V.) New Yorki Robert M. McBride and Company, 1940.
[Pp. 128, 220-221. A brief comment on Thomas's poetry.]
Nielsen, Veneta L. Under Sound! A Theory of Poetry with some Original
Poems. Utah State University Monograph Series, VII, i (Decem-
ber, 1958) . Logan, Utahs Utah State University. [A treatment
of the subject matter and aesthetic effect of lyric poetry j
some original poems . ]
Olson,. Elder. The Poetr:
etry of Dyl
, 1954. I A
Ian Thomas. Chicago i The University of
Chicago Press, 1954. LA study of Thomas's poetry which includes
a controversial astronatiical interpi*etation of the sonnet
sequence . ]
Osgood, Charles E. Method and Theory in Experimental Psychology .
New York: Oxford University Press, 1956. [Pp. 642-646.
A discussion of synesthetic thinking.]
Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry .
Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1956. [An approach to
the study of poetry. Chapter XIII: "Soimd and Meaning,"
167-182, contains a catalog cf sound-idea correspondences.]
Potter, Ralph Kimball, Kopp, George A., and Green, Harriet C. Visible
Speech . New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1947.
[Chapter 11: "The Sound Spectrograph," pp. 8-15, explains
the principles and problems involved in various types of sound
spectrographs . ]
Quennell, Peter. The Sign of the Fish. New York: The Viking Press,
1960. [Pp. 41-44. Personal reminiscences of Thomas.]
The True Voice of Feeling:
Faber and Faber, Ltd
ment on Thomas's relation to Hopkins.]
Studi es in English Romantic
fRexroth, Kenneth (ed.).
New Directions [1949
impact upon literature.]
The New British Poets
[P. 86. A com-
, [Norfolk, Conn.]:
A discuBsion of Thomas's
Robeon, Ernest M. The Orchestra of the Language . New York: Thomas
Yoseloff, 1959. [A new approach to non-instrumental phonetics
that utilizes instrumental data, the product of twenty years
of research into the field of acoustic patterns.]
Rodman, Selden. 100 Modem Poems . New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy,
1949. [Pp. xxviii-xxx. Notes on Thomas's work.]
Rolph, J. Alexander. Dylan Thomas: A Bibliography . New York: New
Directions, 19"S6T [A bibliography of works by Thomas.]
Sanders, Charles. Poetic Characteristics and Problems of Dylan Thomas .
Unpublished M.A. thesis, The University of North Carolina, 1958 .
[A study focusing on the problem of diction in Thomas's poetry.]
Scarf e, Francis. Auden and After; The Liberation of Poetry 1950-1941 .
London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1943. [Chapter X:
"Dylan Thomas: A Pioneer," pp. 101-117. A discussion of Thomas's
relationship to Joyce, the Bible, and Freud. Published earlier
as "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," Horizon , II, November, 1940,
226-239 . ]
Schramm, Wilbur Lang. Approaches to a Science of English Verse .
University of Iowa Studies, No. 46. Iowa City, Iowa:
The University of Iowa, 1935. [An attempt to analyze objec-
tively the melodies and rhythms of verse.]
Scott- James, R. A. Fifty Years of English Literature, 1900-1950.
London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1958. L Pp. 210-211, 222.
Brief references to Thomas and his place among the modem
Seashore, Carl Emil. The Psychology of Musical Talent . Boston: Silver,
Burdett and Company, 1919 . [Chapter V: "The Sense of Rhythm,"
pp. 115-126. A discussion of the nature of rhythm, what rhythm
does, and the measurement of the sense of rhythm.]
Sewell, Elizabeth. The Structure of Poetry . London: Routledge & Kegan
Paul," Ltd., 1951. [Pp. 83, 128. A brief comparison of Thomas's
poetry with the poetry of Rimbaud . ]
^Sitwell, Edith (ed.). The Atlantic Book of British and American Poetry .
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1958. [Pp. 982-984. A warm
appraisal of Thomas's poetry.]
Sonnenschein, E[dward] A[dolf]. ^^at is Rhythm ? Oxford: Basil Black-
well, 1925. [An attempt to define and analyze rhythm.]
Spender, Stephen. Poetry Since 1959 . London: Longmans, Green and Co.,
1950. [Pp. 44-47. An evaluation of Thomas's poetry.]
Stanford, Derek. Dylan Thomas: A Literary Study . London: Neville
Spearman, Ltd., 1954. [An examination of Thomas the man and
Steele, Joshua, Prosodla Rationalis: An Essay towards establishing the
Melody and Measure of Speech, to be expressed and perpetuated
by Peculiar Symbol's ^ London: J. Nichols, 1779. [An attempt
to apply the rules of the melody and rhythm of music to the
melody and rhythm of language.]
Symons, Arthur. The Symbolist Movement In Literature . London:
William Heinemann, 1899. [A study of the Symbolist movement
in literature with chapters on Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarm^.J
Tedlock, E. W. (ed.) Dylan Thomas; the Legend and the Poet, a Col -
lection of Biographical and Critical Essays . London! William
Heinemann, Ltd", I960, [A symposium reprinting thirty-eight
essays on Thomas.]
Thomas, Caitlin. Leftover Life to Kill . New York: Grove Press, Inc.
, [A confession by Thomas's wife of her attempt after
his death to escape from her "all-in-I^ylan world."]
Tindall, William York. Forces in Modern British Litera ture. 1885-1956.
Revised edition. New York: Vintage Books, Inc., 1956.
[Pp. 256-241. An analysis of Thomas's poetry and a discussion
of three main divisions of his career in poetry.]
Treece, Henry. Dylan Thomas; "Dog Among the Fairies." 2nd edition.
London; Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1957T [A discussion of the influ-
ences on and characteristics of Thomas's poetry.]
Turquet-Milnes, G. [Mrs. Gladys R.]. The Influence of Baudelaire in
Fra nce and England . New York; E. P. Dutton and Company, n. d.
[Pp. S51-£5i&. Discussion of "Baudelairian" passages in the works
of the Welsh writer Arthur Machen.]
Vogel, Joseph F[rancis]. Religious Thought in the Poetry o f gyla" Thomas.
Unpublished M.A. thesis, The University of Mialftt, 1960.
[A study of the development of Thomas's religious thought as
expressed in his poetry.]
Williams, Gwyn. The Burning Tree; Poems from the First Thousand Years
of Welsh Verse . London; Fa^er St Faber, 1956. [References in
in tke "J'oreward" to Thomas's poetry. The book Itself contains
forty-seven Welsh poems, or excerpts from Welsh poems, with the
modern English translation.]
Yeats, W[illiam] B[utler]. Essays . New York; The Macmillan Company,
1924. ["Speaking to the Psaltery, " pp. 15-32. An essay concern-
ing Yeats' interest in the music of spoken poetry and his exper-
iments xd.th a system of musical notation.]
Articles, Reviews, Memoirs
Adams, Robert Martin, "Taste and bad taste in Metaphysical Poetry:
Richard Crashaw and Dylan Thomas," Hudson Review , VIII
(Spring, 1955), 61-77. [A consideration, primarily, of
<HH«-Adix, Marjorie. "Dylan Thomas: Memories and Appreciations," Encounter ,
II (January, 1954), 13-16. [An account of a conference held by
Dylan Thomas with students at the University of Utah in 1952.]
Aiken, Conrad. "The New Euphuism," New Republic , CX (January 3, 1944),
26-27. [A review of six new books by New Directions, including
Thomas's New Poems .]
"A Rocking Alphabet," Poetry , LVI (June, 1940), 15S-161.
[A review of The World I Breathe . ]
*Aivaz, David. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," Hudson Review , III
(Autumn, 1950), 382-404. [A study of Thomas's poetry, with
emphasis upon its imagery.]
Arlott, John. "Dylan Thomas," Spectator , CXCI (November 13, 195S), 5S4.
[An appreciation. ]
•♦Arrowaraith, William. "The Wisdom of Poetry," Hudson Review , VI (Winter,
1954), 589-610. [A review of seven volimies of poetry, including
Thomas's Collected Poems .]
*Barker, C3eorge. "Dylan Thomas: Memories and Appreciations," Encomiter,
II (January, 1954), 16-17. [A tribute to Thomas's lifej a
lament for his early death.]
Baro, Gone. "The Orator of Llareggub, " Poetry , LXXXVII (November, 1955),
119-122. [A review of Under Milk Wood . ]
Bartlett, Phyllis. "Thomas' 'Among Those Killed in the Dawn Raid Was
a Man Aged One HundredJ" Explicator , XII (December, 1955),
Beardsley, Monroe C, and Hynes, Sam. "Misunderstanding Poetry: Notes
on Some Readings of Dylan Thcmas," College English , XXI (March,
1960), 315-322. [A discussion of foitr common methods of expli-
cation which are of doubtful validity: the anti-explication
errorj the random method of explication} the bulldozer method
of explication! the runic method of explication.]
Berryman, John. "The Loud Hill of Wales," in The Kenyon Critics :
Studies in Modem Literature from the "Kenyon Review^
(Edited by John Crowe Ransom. New York: The World Publishing
Company, 1951), pp. 255-259. [A review of T he World I Breathe .]
Bloom, Edward A. "Dylan Thomas' 'Naked Vision'," Western Humanities
Review , XIV (Autumn, 1960), 389-400. [A treatment of Thomas's
poetic aims as expressed in his poetry and other writings.]
and Lillian D. "Dylan Thomas: His Intimations of Mortality,"
Boston University Studies in English , IV (Autumn, I960), 138-151.
La discussion of Thomas's search for truth and an attempt to
integrate Thomas in the intellectual movement associated with
the twentieth century.]
Bogan, Louise. "Verse," New Yorker , XV (January 27, 1940), 53-54.
[A review of The World I Breathe , condemning Thomas's poetry
as "perfectly hollow."]
. "Farewell and Hail," New York Times Book Review (November 22,
1953), p. 8. [An appreciation.]
Breit, Harvey. "Haunting Drama of Dylan Thomas," New York Times
Magazine (October 6, 1957), pp. 22-26. [PriJiiarily a consider-
ation of Thomas's public image.]
. "Talk with Dylan Thomas," New York Times Book Review
(May 14, 1950), p. 19. [A talk with Thomas at a Third Avenue
bar near the end of his first reading tour in America.]
« . "Talk with Dylan Thomas," New York Times Book Review
(February 17, 1952), p. 18. [A talk with Thomas near the
beginning of his second reading tour in America. Thomas
comments on poetry in general.]
Brooks, Elmer L. "Thomas' 'Among Those Killed in the Dawn Raid Was a
Man Aged One Hundred'," Explicator , XII (June, 1954), item 49.
Brossard, Chandler. "The Magic of Dylan Thomas," Commonweal , LXII
(June 10, 1955), 262-263. [A review of Adventures in the Skin
Trade and Other Stories .]
Brown, Roger W., Black, Abraham H., and Horowitz, Arnold E. "Phonetic
Symbolisim in Natural Languages," Journal of Abnorm^ and Social
Psychology , L (May, 1955), 388-39'3l [An experiment vihose re-
Slits suggest that some features of phonetic symbolism have a
Cambon, Glauco. "Two Crazy Boats: Dylan Thomas and Rimbaud," English
Miscellany: A Symposium of History, Literature and the Arts ,
VII (1956), 251-259. [A discussion of the affinity between
Rimbaud's Bateau Ivre and Thomas's "Ballad of the Long-legged
*Campbell, Roy. "Memories of Dylan Thomas at the B.B.C.," Poetry ,
LXXXVII (November, 1955), 111-114. [Recollections of Thomas
the man, the reader, the poet, as Campbell knew him.]
Cane, Melville. "Are Poets Returning to Lyricism?" Saturday Review ,
XXXVII (January 16, 1954), 8-10, 40-41. [A discussion of the
intellectual nature of contemporary poetry and a plea for a
return to lyricism} a tribute to Christopher Fry and Dylan
Thomas as modem rcxnantics.]
Carlson, Helen. "The Overwrought Urn," Folio , XXIII (Winter, 1957),
15-24. [A criticism of Thomas's poetry as repetitive and
"half -inspired pantheism" which is without true and great
Casey, Bill. "Thomas' 'Today, This Insect'," Explicator , XVII (March,
1959), item 43.
Chambers, Marlene. "Thomas' 'In the White Giant's Thigh^ " Explicator ,
XIX (October, I960), item 1.
. "Thomas' 'In the White Giant's Thigh'," Explicator , XIX
(March, 1961), item 39.
Ciardi, John. "The Real Thomas," Saturday Review , ZLI (March 1, 1958),
18, 31. [A review of Letters to Vernon Watkins .]
. "Six Hours of Dylan Thomas," Saturday Review , XLI (November
15, 1958), 50. [A review of Caedmon records of Thomas,
Volumes I, II, III, and IV.]
Clair, John A. "Thomas' 'A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a
Child in London'," Explicator , XVII (December, 1958), item 25.
Condon, Richard A. "Thomas' 'Ballad of the Long- Legged Bait',"
Explicator , XVI (March, 1958), item 37.
Connolly, Thomas E. "Thomas* "And Death Shall Have No Dominion',"
Explicator , XIV (January, 1956), item 33.
Gorman, Cid., "Dylan Thomast Rhetorician in Mid"-Career," Accent ,
XIII (Winter, 1953), 56-59. [A review of Collected Poems .]
Cox, C. B. "Dylan Thomas's 'Fern Hill'," Critical Quarterly , I
(Summer, 1959), 154-138. [An appreciative analysis of "Fern
Cox, R. G. "The Cult of Dylan Thomas," Scrutiny , XVI (September, 1949),
247-250. [A review of Dylan Thomas by Henry Treece.]
Cullis, Michael F. "Mr. Thcanas and Mr. Auden," Purpose , IX (April-
June, 1957), 101-104. [A review of 25 Poems .]
"Cujrrent Literature, 1946: Fiction, Drama and Poetry," English Studies ,
XXVIII (June, 1947), 91-92. [A review of Deaths and Entrances.]
Daiches, David. "Contemporary Poetry in Britain," Poetry , LXII (June,
1943), 150-164. [A consideration of Thoraa s^ s influence on the
. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," College English , XVI (October,
1954), 1-8. [A discussion of the develofsnent of Thomas's art
through three periods of his poetry.]
Davenport, John. "Dylan Thanas," Twentieth Century . CLIII (February,
1953), 142-146. [An evaluation of Thomas' s poetry. ]
"Dylan Thomas," Twentieth Century . CLIV (December, 1953),
475-477. [An appreciation by a man who knew Thomas for twenty
Davie, Donald. "Correspondence," The London Magazine , I (March, 1954),
74-75. [A retort to James Michie who in a letter of tribute to
Thomas had claimed to speak for the young generation.]
Davies, Aneirin Talfan. "The Ckslden Echo," Dock Leaves . V (Spring, 1954),
10-17. [A discussion of, primarily, the series of four anthol-
ogies of modern poems which Thomas compiled and read on the
B.B.C. during March, 1953, for the Welsh Home Service.]
Davies, Pennar. "Sober Reflections on Dylan Thcsnas," Dock Leaves. V
(Winter, 1954), 13-17. [Adverse criticism of ttiomas's poetry
as obscure and without moral substance.]
Deutsch, Babette. "Orient Wheat," Virginia Quarterly Review . XXVII
(Spring, 1951), 221-236. [A commentary on Thomas's poetry.
Cf. Deutsch' s Poetry in Our Time , pp. 331-347.]
Dobr^e, Bonamy. "Two Experiments," Spectator , CXC (June 12, 1953),
763-764. [A review of The Doctor and the Devils and of
Jacquetta Hawkes's Fables . J
*Darrell, Lawrence. "The Shades of Dylan Thomas," Encounter . IX
(December, 1957), 56-59. [A lively account of Durrell's
memories of Thomas in the late 1930' s.]
Eberhart, Richard. "Some Memories of Dylan Thomas," Yale Literary
Magazine , CXHI (November, 1954), 5-6. [Personal reminiscences
of Thomas at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in early March, 1950,
and in mid-March, 1952.]
"Editorial Notei The Second Phase of Neo-Romanticism, " Poetry and
Poverty , IV (1953), 2-7. [A short discussion of Thomas's
poetic virtues and vices.]
Edman, Irwin. "The Spoken Word," Saturday Review . XXXV (November 29,
1952), 68-69. [A review of Caedmon record of Thomas, volume I.]
♦*Empson, William. "Books in General," New Statesman and Nation, XLVII
(May 15, 1954), 635-636. [A review of CollectedPoems and
Under Milk Wood. ]
"To Understand a Modem Poem," Strand , CXII (March, 1947),
60-64. [An explication of "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by
Fire, of a Child in London."]
Essig, Erhardt H. "Thomas' 'Sonnet I' ('Altarwise by Owl-Light'),"
Explicator , XVI (June, 1958), item 55.
Evans. Oliver. "Dylan Thomas' Birthday Poems." lype-written MS.
[An analysis and evaluation of "Twenty- four years," "Poem in
October," and "Poem on his Birthday."]
"The Making of a Poami Dylan Thomas' 'Do not go gentle into
that good night'/ English Miscellanyi A Symposium of History,
L iterature and the Arts, VI C1955J, 165-175. LA discussion-
based on the worK sheets, which are partially reproduced in
eight plates— of TOomas's method of composing of this villanelle.J
"The Making of a Poem (II): Dylan Thomas' 'Lament'," giglish
M iscellany! A Symposium of History^ Literat ure and the Ar^,
Vll (1956), 241-249. [An analysis of "Lament."]
FFitts], D[udley]. "The New Books," Saturday Re view of Literature,
XECI (May 11, 1940), 20. [A review of several new books,
including Thomas's The World I Breathe .]
Fox, Charles Warren. "An Experimental Study of Naming," American
Journal of Psychology , XLVII (October, 1955), 545-579.
[An experiment demonstrating that persons tend to associate
such sounds as i, z, and k with sharpness or angularity and
such sounds as ra, T, u, and b with smoothness or voluminousness.]
Frankenberg, Lloyd. "Controlled Abandon," New York Ti mes Book Review
(April 6, 1952), p. 4. [A review of In Country Sleep Tj
♦ Fraser, G. S. "The Artist as a Young Dog," New Statesman and Nation ,
TT.TT (June 11, 1955), 812. [Personal reminiscences of Thomas
and a commentary on Emlyn Williams's performance at the Globe
Theatre of "A Boy Growing Up," a portrayal of the characters
in Thomas's prose works.]
. "Craft and Sullen Art," New Statesman and Nat ion, XLIV
(November 29, 1952), 640, SAT. [A review of Collected Poems .]
Gant, Roland. "Romantics and Others," Poetry Review , XXXIV (May- June,
1945), 179-182. [Two brief references to Thomas in this dis-
cussion of Celtic poets.]
Gardiner, Harold C. "Welsh Chanter's Spell," America , XCII (January 1,
1955), 563. [A review of Quite Early One Morning .]
Garlick, Raymond. "The Endless Breviaryt Aspects of the Work of Dylan
Thomas," The Month (London), II (March, 1954), 143-153.
[An examination of Thomas's poetry in respect to Welsh and
Qarrigue, Jean. "Dark is a Way and Light is a Place," Poetry , XCIV
(May, 1959), 111-114. [A review of Collected Poems .]
Ghiselin, Brewster. "Critical Work in Progress," Poetry , LXXXVII
(November, 1955), 118-119. [A review of The Poetry of Dylan
Thomas by Elder Olson.]
. "Use of a Mango. " Rocky Mountain Review [now Western Review] ,
VIII (Spring, 1944), 111-112. [A review of New Poems . J
♦Gibson, Henry. "A Comment," The Critic , I (Autumn, 1S47) , 19-20.
[A commentary on "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of
a Child in London" and "We lying by seasand."]
Giovannini, G. "Thomas' 'The force that through the green fuse',"
Explicator , VIII (June, 1950), item 59.
*Graddon, John. "The Interior Life," Poetry Review , XLIV (April-June,
1953), 338-340. [A favorable review of Collected Poems paired
with Geoffrey Johnson's unfavorable review of the volume,]
** Gregory, Horace. "Romantic Heritage in the Writings of Dylan Thomas,"
Yale Literary ^gazine , CXXII (November, 1954), 30-34. [An
essay on "neo-romanticism" and Thomas, reprinted, with changes,
from Poetry LXIX, March, 1947, 326-356.]
Grenander, M. E. "Sonnet V from Dylan Thomas' 'Altarwise by Owl-Light
Sequence'," Notes and Queries , New Series V (June, 1958), 263.
[A consideration of the Ishmael image in Sonnet V.]
**Grigson, Geoffrey. "Recollections of Dylan Thcanas," London Magazine ,
IV (September, 1957), 39-45. [Recollections of Thomas with
friends Norman Cameron, Bernard Spencer, Geoffrey Grigson,
Hamilton, Edith. "Words, Words, Words5 The Modern School of Verse,"
Saturday Review. XXXVIII (November 19, 1955), 15-16, 52-53.
[A scathing criticism of Thomas's poetry as dark, ugly,
Harding, Joan. "Dylan Thomas and Edward Thomas," Contemporary Review ,
CXCII (September, 1957), 150-154. [A comparison and contrast
of Dylan Thomas and Edward Thomas.]
**Hardwick, Elizabeth. "America and Dylan Thomas," Partisan Review ,
XXril (Spring, 1956), 258-264. [A commentary on Dylan Thomas
and America generally and John Malcolm Brinnin's Dylan Thomas
in America specifically.]
Hassan, Ihab H. "Thomas' 'The Tombstone Told When She Died',"
Expllcator , XV (November, 1956), item 11.
Hawkes, Terence. "Dylan Thomas's Welsh," College English, XXI (March,
1960), 545-347. [A discussion of Thomas's use of Welsh idioms,
especially those with bawdy connotations which contribute to
the humor in Under Milk Wood .]
Hecht, Roger. "Light and Darkness," Bard Review , II (Spring, 1947),
57-58. [A review of The Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas ,
edited by John L. Sweeney. J
Heseltina, Nigel. "Dylan Thomas," Wales . II (August, 1937), 74-75.
[A review of 25 Poems .]
Hewes, Henry. "And Death shall have no dOTiinion, " Saturday Review ,
XL (October 19, 1957), 55. [A review of Emlyn Williams's
performance at the Globe Theatre of "A Boy Growing Up, "
a portrayal of the characters in Thomas's prose works.]
Highet, Gilbert. "The Great Welsh Poetj Dylan Thomas. An Excerpt
from The Powers of Poetry ," Vogue , CXXXV (March 15, I960),
110-111, 152-154. LAn examination of the peculiar character-
istics of the Welsh people and their relationship to Thomas
himself and to his poetry. ]
♦Horan, Robert. "In Defense of Dylan Thomas," Kenyon Review , VII
(Spring, 1945), 304-310. [An evaluation of Thomas's poetry.]
Howard, D. R. "Then I Slept," Renascence , IX (Winter, 1956), 91-96.
[A review of A Child's Christmas in Wales, John Malcolm Brinnin's
Dylan Thonas in America , and Poetry , LXXXVII, No-uember, 1955,
A Dylan Thomas Number.]
. "Thomas' 'In My Craft or Sullen Art'," Explicator , XII
(February, 1954), item 22.
Huddlestone, Linden. "An Approach to Dylan Thomas," in New Writing
(Edited by John Lehmann. London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1948),
123-160. [An appraisal of Thomas's poetry, with emphasis upon
his "style of sound."]
Hynes, Sam. "Thomas' 'From Love's First Fever to her Plague',"
E xplicator , IX (December, 1950), item 18.
"In the Vftiite Giant's Thigh," from "Letters to and from the Editor,"
Atlantic , CLXXXVIII (November, 1951), 22-23. [Five letters
and the editors' note concerning the publication in the
September issue of Atlantic of "In the White Giant's Thigh."]
John, Augustus. "Dylan Thomas and Company," Sunday Times (London),
September 28, 1958, p. 17. [Personal reminiscences of Thomas.
A revised and condensed version of this article appears in
A Casebook on Dylan Thomas, pp. 276-278.]
♦Johnson, Geoffrey. "The Acid Test," Poetry Review , XLIV (April- June,
1963). 540-343. [An unfavorable review of Collected Poems
paired with John Graddon's favorable review of the volume.]
•♦Johnson, Pamela Hansford . "A Memoir, " Adam International Review ,
No. 238 (1953), 24-25. [Recollections of the youthful
Johnson, S. F. "Thomas' 'The force that through the green fuse',"
Explicator , VIII (June, 1950), item 60.
. "Thomas' 'The force that through the green fuse',"
Explicator , X (February, 1952), item 26.
. "Thomas' 'The Hunchback in the Park* and 'The Marriage of
a Virgin'," Explicator , X (February, 1952), item 27.
*♦ Jones, Daniel. "Dylan Thomas: Memories and Appreciations,"
Encounter , II (January, 1954), 9-10. [An account of Jones's
childhood intimacy with Thomas and some comments on auto-
biographical incidents in Thomas's prose.]
Jones, Glyn. "Dylan Thomas," Welsh Review , II (October, 1939), 179-
180. [A review of The Map of Love .]
. "Dylan Thomas and Welsh," Dock Leaves , V (Spring, 1954),
24-25. [A consideration of the Welsh characteristics in
Thomas's poetry as the result either of accident or of the
influence upon him of Hopkins . ]
Jones, Noel A. "Dylan Thomas as a Pattern," in British Annual of
Literature , VI (Londoni The British Author's Press, 1949),
12-16. [X presentation of the problems involved in eval-
uating Thomas's writings.]
Jones, Robert C. "Thomas' 'The Conversation of Prayer'," Explicator ,
XVII (April, 1959), item 49.
Julian, Sister Mary. "Edith Sitwell and Dylan Thomas: Neo-
Romantics," Renascence , IX (Spring, 1957), 120-126, 131.
[An evaluation of Thomas's poetiy and prose.]
Karwoski, T. F., Odbert, H. S., and Osgood, C. E. "Studa.es in
Synesthkic ThiAkingt II. The Role of Fom in Visual
Responses to Music," Journal of Ge neral Psychology, XXVI
(1942), 199-222. [An analysis of the relation between the
mood of music and the colors suggested by that music]
Knauber, Charles F. "Imagery of Light in Dylan Iliomas," R«"g^^"f >
VI (Spring, 1954), 95-96, 116. [An examination or^omae's
poetry as his "individual struggle from darkness towards
some measure of light."]
Knieger, Bernard. "Thomas' 'Light Breaks where no Sun Shines',"
Explicator , XV (February, 1957), item 32.
"Thomas' 'Love in the Asylum'," Explicator , XX (October,
^1961), item IS.
. "Thomas' 'On the Marriage of a Virgin'," Explicator , HX
(May, 1961), item 61.
. "Thomas' 'Sonnet I'," Explicator , XV (December, 1956),
"Thomas' 'Sonnet II'," Explicator , XVIII (November, 1959),
"Thomas' 'Sonnet III'," Explicator , XVIII (January, I960),
"Thomas' ' Twenty- four Years'," Explicator , XX (September,
1961), item 4.
Korg Jacob. "Imagery and Universe in Dylan Thomas's '18 Poems',"
' Accent, XVII (Winter, 1957), 3-15. [A consideration of the
imagery in 18 Poems in respect to Thomas's view of the uni-
verse as complex and paradoxical.]
Lander. Clara. "With Welsh and Reverent Rook: the Biblical Element In
Dylan Thomas," Queen's Quarterly , LXV (Autumn, 1958), 457-447.
[A discussion of Thomas's relation to and use of the Bible.]
Laurentia, Sister M. "Thomas' 'Fern Hill'," Explicator , XIV (October,
1955), item 1.
♦Lewie E. Qlyn. "Dylan Thomas," Welsh Review , VII (Winter, 1948),
' 270-281. [A treatment of Thomas as an essentially religious
Lewis, E. Glyn. "Some Aspects of Anglo-Welsh Literature," Welsh Review ,
V (Autumn, 1946), 176-186. [A discussion of the three important
periods of Anglo-Welsh literature and the contribution of Anglo-
Welsh literature to the main body of English literaturej an ex-
amination of the relationship between seventeenth century and
contemporary Anglo-Welsh poetry, with special reference to
Lewis, Saunders. "Dylan Thomas," Dock Leaves , V (Spring, 1954), 8-9.
[a talk broadcast in Welsh over the B.B.C. the day after
Thomas's death. Page 9 is a translation of the talk.]
Lougee, David. "An Open Window," Poetry , XCIV (May, 1959), 114-117.
[A review of Letters to Vernon Watkins. ]
. "The Worlds of Dylan Thomas," Poetry , LXXXVII (November,
1955), 114-115. [A review of Quite Early One Morning and
Adventures in the Skin Trade and Other Stories .]
M., Q. "Worth Reprinting," New Republic . CXV (December 2, 1946), 742.
[A review of The Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas , edited by
John L. Sweeney. J
Macgregor-Hastie, Roy. "Ricordo di Dylan Thomas," Ausonia, XEV,
i ( January- February, 1959), 61-64. [A memory of Dylan Thomas,
published in Italian.]
►MacNeice, Louis. "Dylan Thomast Memories and Appreciations,"
Encounter , II (January, 1954), 12-15. [A tribute.]
. "Sometimes the Poet Spoke in Prose," New York Times Book
Review (December 19, 1954), p. 1. [A review of Quite Early
One Morning .]
. "The Strange, Mighty Impact of Dylan Thomas' Poetry,"
New York Times Book Review (April 5, 1953), pp. 1, 17.
[A review of Collected Poems .]
Mankowitz, Wolf. "Dylan Thomas," Scrutiny , XIV (Summer, 1946), 62-67.
[A review of Deaths and Entrances .]
Mathias, Roland. "A Merry Manshape (or Dylan Thomas at a distance),"
Dock Leaves . V (Spring, 1954), 50-59. [An appraisal of
Thomas's poetry. ]
Maud, Ralph N[oel]. "Dylan Thomas' Collected Poems ; Chronology of
Composition," PMLA , LXXVI (June, 1961 j, 292-297. [A chron-
ology, based mainly on extant Thomas notebooks for the years
1950 to 1934, that reveals the delayed publication of many
early poems . ]
Maud, Ralph N[oel]. "Dylan Thomas' First Published Poem," Modem
Language Notes . LXXIV (February, 1959), 117-118. [A biblio-
graphical note that an early form of "And death shall have no
dominion, " published in The New English Weekly . May 18, 1933,
is Thomas's first publication outside Swansea. J
• "I^ylan Thomas Manuscripts in Houghton Library," Audience,
I (February 4, 1955), 4-6. [An article on the two most Impor-
tant MSS. which Oscar Williams presented to Harvard University:
166 written sides of work sheets for Prologue; 65 written sides
for "Over Sir John's Hill."]
• "Q/lan Thomas's Poetry," in Essays in Criticism . IV (Oxford:
Basil Blackwell, 1954), 411-420"; LAn analysis of the craftsman-
ship of Thomas's poems.]
• "^ Note on Dylan Thomas's Serious Puns," Audience, VI (April
15, 1955), 5-7. [Aji examination of some serious puns in Thomas's
poetry which are pertinent to his basic themes.]
• "Obsolete and Dialect Words as Serious Puns in Dylan Thomas "
English Studies. XLI (February, i960), 28-30. [Essentially the
same as Maud's article in Audience , "A Note on Dylan Thomas's
Serious Puna," q.v. ]
. "Thomas' 'Sonnet I'," Explicator . XIV (December, 1955).
item 16. — »— — — > / >
McLaren, Floris. "Dylan Thomas in Vancouver," Contem porary Verse.
No. 31 (Spring, 1950), 26-27. [An account of Thomas's
speaking engagements in Vancouver on April 6, 1950.]
McLuhan, Herbert Marshall "Sight, Sound, and the Fury," Commonweal .
LX (April 9, 1954), 7-11. [A reference to the in fluence on
Thomas's later poetry of his reading poetry on the radio.]
;« It^^'V. ^^® ^"'^ Poetry," Explorations . IV (February, 1955),
bb-62. [A reference to Thomas's poetry as illustration of the
^ theory that poetry which develops the visual image intensely
also tends strongly towards the auditory stress.]
**»Merwin, ^[illiH^] S. ."The Religious Poet," Adam International Review .
No. 238 (1953), 73-78. [A discussi on of T homas as an essenti ally
religious poet.] -^
Meyerhoff Hans. "The Violence of Dylan Thomas," New Rep ublic. CXXHII
(July 11, 1956), 17-19. [A. review of Adventur es in the Skin
Trade and other stories .] ~ ■ ■
Michie, James. "Correspondence," The London Magazine . I (February, 1954),
I l.\.. attempt to explain what Thomas and his poetry meant
to Michie 's young generation.]
Miller, George A. "Speech and Language," in Handbook of Experljiental
Paychology (Edited by S. S. Stevens. New Yorkj John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., 1951), pp. 789-810. [A study showing that the
greater frequency of occurrence of certain speech sounds results
f)?om their being easier to produce and easier to discriminate
than certain other sounds.]
Miller, James E., Jr. "Four Cosmic Poets," University of Kansas City
Review , XXIII (June, 1957), 312-320. [A discussion of four
cosmic poets: Walt Whitman, D. H. Lawrence, Hart Crane, and
Mizener, Arthur. "Poets," Nation , CLXIII (August 10, 1946), 160.
[A review of Henry Treece's Collected Poems with some ccanments
on Thomas's influence on Treece. J
"Modernism in Poetry Yes and No — Readers' Free-for-All," Poetry Review ,
XLIV (October-December, 1953), 454-456. [Five readers express
their reactions to John Graddon's and Geoffrey Johnson's con-
trasting reviews of Thcmias's Collected Poems .]
Montague, Gene. "Thomas' 'To-day, This Insecif, " Explicator , XIX
(December, 1960), item 15.
♦Moore, Geoffrey. "Dylan Thomas: Significance of His Genius," Kenyan
Review , XVII (Spring, 1955), 258-277. [An evaluation oT~^
Thomas ' s poetry.]
Moore, Nicholas. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," Poetry Quarterly , X
(Winter, 1948), 229-236. [A consideration of Thomas's poetic
virtues and vices in respect to his craftsmanship and his
Morgan, W. John. "Evans, Thomas and Lewis," Twentieth Century , CLX
(October, 1956), 322-329. [A discussion of the need for
preserving or reviving rural, Northern Welsh culture, with
special mention of Under Milk Wood .]
Moynihan, William T. "The Auditory Correlative," Joiirnal of Aesthetics
and Art Criticism , XVII (September, 1958), 93-102. [A thought-
ful analysis of the "auditory correlative" of the literal mean-
ing in poetry, with examples from several poems by Thomas.]
. "Dylan Thomas' 'Hewn Voice'," Texas Studies in Literature
and Language , I (Autumn, 1959), 315-326. [An examination of
three types of auditory techniques which Thomas employed to
enable the sound to support or echo the sense in his poetry. ]
. "Thomas' 'In the White Giant's Thigh'," Explicator , XVH
"(May, 1959), item 59.
Moynlhan, William T. "Thomas' 'Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines',"
Explicator , XVI (February, 1958), item 28.
"Mr. Dylan Thomas: Innovation and Tradition," Times (London),
Noreraber 10, 1953, p. 11. [An obituary — probably the best
Muecke, D. C. "Come Back'. Come Backl — A Theme in Dylan Thomas's
Prose," Mean j in , XVIII (April, 1959), 69-76. [A discussion
of the theme in Thomas's prose of losing someone or being
unable to recapture something.]
Muir, Edwin. "The Art of Dylan Thomas," Harper' s Bazaar , LXXXVIII
(February, 1954), 128. [A memorial tribute.]
. "New Poetry," Purpose , XI (October-December, 1959), 241-243.
[A review of The Map of Love .]
"Obituary," New York Times, November 10, 1953, p. 31. [An obituary
containing a general criticism of Thomas's work.]
Ochshorn, Myron. "The Love Song of Dylan Thomas," New Mexico Quarterly ,
XXIV (Spring, 1954), 46-65. [A treatment of Thomas's poetry as
a record of the struggle toward a life in which love can exist.]
Odbert, H. S., Karwoski, T. F., and Eckerson, A. B. "Studies in Syn-
esthetic Thinking: I. Musical and Verbal Association of Color
and Mood," Journal of General Psychology , XXVI (1942), 153-175.
[An experiment to investigate the form factor in color-hearing.]
Olson, Elder. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," Poetry , LXXXIII (January,
1954), 213-220. [A review of Collected Poems .]
"Passionate Pilgrim," Tjjie , XLVIII (December 2, 1946), 112, 114, 116.
[A review of The Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas , edited
by John L. Sweeney. J
Peel, J. H. B. "The Echoes in the Booming Voice," New York Times Book
Review (October 20, 1957), pp. 40-41. [A study of Hopkins and
Thomas, treating Hopkins as an inventor and major poet and
Thomas as an imitator and minor poet.]
"Poetry and Protest," Poetry and Poverty , IV (1953), 39-40.
[A review of Collected Poems .]
Prys-Jones, A. G. "Death Shall Have No Dominion," Dock Leaves , V
(Spring, 1954), 26-29. [A tribute paid to Thomas at the
Memorial Recital organized by the Cardiff Branch of the
Poetry Association, at the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre,
December 7, 1953.]
Raine, Kathleen. "Dylan Thomas," New Statesman and Nation , XLVI
(November 14, 1953), 594. [A tribute and memory of Thomas,
with emphasis on his early poetic career.]
*-'^ Reid, Alastair. "A First Word," Yale Literary Magazine , CXXII
(November, 1954), 20. [Personal reminiscences of Thomas's
delight in words,]
Rhys, Aneurin. "Letters to the Editor: Dylan Thomas — A Further Esti-
mate," Poetry Review , XXXIX (April-May, 1848), 214-216.
[Aji adversely critical essay which attacks Thomas's poetry on
the grounds of "verbal trickery" and obsciirity. ]
Rhys, Keidrych. "Contemporary Welsh Literature," in The British
Annual of Literature, 1946 (London: The British Authors'
Press, Ltd. L1946J), pp. 17-22. [A discussion of the "Welsh
Renaissance," with several references to Thomas.]
Rickey, Mary Ellen. "Thomas' 'The Conversation of Prayer',"
Explicator , XVI (December, 1957), item 15.
Riggs, Thomas, Jr. "Recent Poetry— a Miscellany," Nation , CLXXVI
(May 2, 1953), 376-378. [A review of Collected Poems .]
*Roethke, Theodore. "Dylan Thomas: Memories and Appreciations,"
Encounter , II (January, 1954), 11. [An account of Thomas
as Roethke knew him — from 1950 on — with special mention of
Thomas's literary knowledge and preferences.]
Rolo, Charles J. "Reader's Choice," Atlantic ?fonthly , CXCII
(November, 1953), 110-111. [A review of The Doctor and
the Devils .]
Rosenfeld, Paul. "Decadence and Dylan Thomas," Nation , CL (March 23,
1940), 399-400. [A review of The World I Breathe . ]
♦Rothberg, Winterset [Theodore Roethke]. "One Ring-tailed Roarer to
Another," Poetry , LXXXI (December, 1952), 184-186. [A review
of In Country Sleep and other poems , written at Thomas's
* Rousillat, Suzanne. "His Work and Background," Adam International
Review , No. 238 (1953), 66-72. [The fullest detailed ac-
count of Thomas's life.]
"Salute to a Poet," Times (London) Literary Supplement , November 28,
1952, p. 776"! [a review of Collected Poems ; a favorable and
detailed examination of Thomas's poetry.]
Sapir, Edward. "A Study in Phonetic Symbolism," Journal of Exper -
imental Psychology . XII (June, 1929), 225-259. [A study, of
the symbolic suggest iveness of special sound contrasts, which
revealed that certain vowels and certain consonants "sound
bigger" than others.]
♦Savage, D. S. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," New Republic , CXIV
(April 29, 1946), 618, 620, 622. [A survey of Thomas's poetic
development through the publication of Deaths and Entrances .]
■iHH«-Scarfe, Francis. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," Horizon , II (November,
1940), 226-239. [A discussion of Thomas's relationship to
Joyce, the Bible, and Freud. Identical to Chapter X in Scarfe's
Auden and After , q.v . ]
«*Scott, Winfield Townley. "Death, and Some Dominions of It," Yale
Literary Review , CXXII (November, 1954), 13-14. [An essay on
the effect of death on a poet's public image, in particular
. "The Lyric Marvel," Saturday Review , XXXVIII (January 8,
1955), 17-18. [A review of Quite Early One Morning .]
. "Wild Man Bound," Saturday Review , XXXVI (April 11, 1953),
29-30. [A review of Collected Poems.]
Seldes, Gilbert. "Radio, TV, and the Common Man, " in Is the Common
Man Too Common ? An Informal Survey of Our Cultural Resources
and What We are Doing about Them . (Edited by Joseph Wood
Krutch et al . Norman, Okla . j The University of Oklahoma Press,
1954), 45-55. [An inquiry, by an authority on mass media, into
the relation between the broadcasters and the public]
Seymour, William Kean [unsigned]. "Poets and Pretenders," Poetry Review ,
XXXVII (April -May, 1946), 128-129. [A review of Deaths and
Entrances . ]
**« Shapiro, Karl. "Dylan Thomas," Poetry , LXXXVII (November, 1955), 100-
110. [A critical treatment of Thomas's poetry, with a list of
the thirty poems which Shapiro feels belong to the pennanent
body of any poetry. ]
»» Shuttleworth, Martin. "Without Apxjlogies," New Statesman and Nation ,
XLV (February 7, 1953), 144-145. [A stinging observation of
a particular "literary" luncheon held in honor of Thomas's
receipt of the Foyle Award.]
♦Sitvrell, Edith. "Comment on Dylan Thomas," The Critic , I (Autumn,
1947), 17-18. [An appreciation of Thomas's poetry, including
a favorable commentary on "We lying by seasand" and "A Refusal
to Mourn the Death, by Firo, of a Child in London."]
Sltwell, Edith. "Dylan Thomas," The Atlantic Monthly , CXCIII
(Febrtiary, 1954), 42-45. [Memories of Thomas as a youthful
cherub and a sublline reader} a discussion of "We lying by
seasand"j a lament for Thomas's early death.]
. "Four New Poets," London Mercury , XXXIII (February, 1956)
383-390. [A discussion of four new poets J William Empson,
Ronald Bottrall, Dylan Thomas, Archibald MacLeish.]
. "The Love of Man, the Praise of CJod," New York Herald
Tribune Book Review (May 10, 1953), pp. 1, 14. [A review of
Collected Poems T]
Slote, Bemice, and Miller, James E., Jr. "Of Monkeys, Nudes, and the
Good Gray Poet! Dylan Thomas and Walt Whitman," Western
Humanities Review , XIII (Autumn, 1959), 339-353. [A. comparison
and contrast of Whitman and Thomas as to language, emphasis,
manner, theme, image, etc.]
Smith, A. J. "The Art of the Intricate Image," Letterature Modeme ,
VII (November- December, 1958), 697-703. [A treatment which
includes a detailed analysis of "Our eunuch dreams."]
♦anith, William Jay. "Life, Literature, and Dylan," Yale Literary
Magazine , CXXII (November, 1954), 7. [Personal reminiscences
of Thomas as man and poet.]
Spacks, Patricia Meyer. "Thomas' 'In My Craft or Sullen Art,' 6-9,"
Explicator , XVIII (December, 1959), item 21.
Spender, Stephen. "Dylan Thomas," Britain Today , No. 213 (January,
1954), 15-18. [A. statement on the significance of Thomas's
. "Poetry for Poetry's Sake and PoetiT" Beyond Poetry,"
Horizon . XIII (April, 1946), 221-238. [A distinction between
"transparent" and "opaque" poetryj a discussion of Thomas's
. "A Romantic in Revolt," Spectator , CLXXXIX (December 5, 1952),
780-781. [A review of Collected Poems which Thanas himself
praised as "the clearest, most considered and sympathetic, and,
in my opinion, truest review that I have ever seen of my
Stearns, Marshall W. "Dylan Thomas's 'After the Funeral' ('In Memory
of Ann Jones')," Explicator , III (May, 1945), item 52.
♦ . "Unsex the Skeleton: Notes on the Poetry of Dylan Thomas,"
Sewanee Review , LII (July, 1944), 424-440. [An evaluation of
Thomas as an original poet and as an influence on his fellow
Sweeney, John L. "The Round Sunday Sounds," New Republic , CXXVIII
(April 6, 1953), 24-25. [A review of CollecledToems . ]
Symons, Julian. "Obscurity and Dylan Thomas," Kenyon Review , II
(Winter, 1940), 60-71. [An accusation that Thomas deliberately
employs obscurity of manner to hide the shallowness of his
Tambjjiiuttu, M. J. "First Letter," Poetry (London), I (February, 1959)
[1-4]. [A statement of the purposes and principles of this new
magazine] an introduction to Thomas's "A saint about to fall,"
printed on pp. 26-27 of the issue.]
. "Fourth Letter," Poetry (London), I (January 15, 1941), 90.
[A commentary on an article, printed in this issue, by Pierre
Jean Jouve; a reference to Thcsnas as an important pre-war poet.]
. "Second Letter," Poetry (London), I (April, 1939) .
[A statement of the catholic nature of poetry accepted for pub-
lication in Poetry } a mention of Thomas in a comment on the
existence of differences in literary opinion.]
Thomas, Gaitlin. "Dylan Thomas and Emlyn Williams," New Statesman and
Nation , XLIX (June 11, 1955), 815. [J\ commentary on Emlyn
Williams 's'perf ormance at the Globe Theatre of "A Boy Growing
Up," a portrayal of the characters in Thomas's prose works.]
Thompson, Dunstan. "Time for Terror," New Republic , CII (April 1, 1940),
447-448. [A review of The World I Breath"e 7]
Tindall, William York. "Burning and Crested Song," Ajnerican Scholar ,
XXII (Autumn, 1953), 486-490. [An explicative review of
Collected Poems .]
. "The Poetrv of Dylan Thcanas," American Scholar , XVII
(Autumn, 1948), 431-439. [An examination of Thomas's poetry
when it was little known in Americaj an evaluation of Thomas
as "the best and most magical English-speaking poet to have
appeared since Yeats began to write."]
Treece, Henry. "Chalk Sketch for a Genius," Dock Leaves, V (Spring,
1954), 18-23. [A sympathetic appraisal of Thomas's literary
position, identical to sections i-iv of the "Introduction" to
the 1956 edition of Treece's Dylan Thomas » "Dog Among the
. "Corkscrew or Footrule? Some Notes on the Poetry of Dylan
Thomas," Poetry (London), I (May-June, 1941), 196-199.
[A discussion of various influences upon Thomas. Cf. the 1956
edition of Treece's Dylan Thcanast "Dog AjBong the Fairies ."]
Tyler, Parker. "Then Was ify Neophyte a Scriptist," Poetry LXXXVII
(November, 1955), 116-118. [A review of The Doctor and the
Unterraeyer, Louis. "Eight Poets," Yale Review , XXXIII (Winter, 1944),
551. [A review of New Poems . J
. "Poet's Portrait as a Doomed Man," Saturday Review , XXXVIII
(November 19, 1955), 16-18. [A review of John Malcolm Brinnin's
Dylan Thomas in America .]
Verechoyle, Derek. "Mr. Dylan Thomas," Spectator , CLXIV (April 5, 1940),
496. [A review of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog .]
"Versa," New Yorker , XXII (December 21, 1946), 99. [A review of The
Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas , edited by John L. Sweeney.]
**Wain, John. "Dylan Thomas: A Review of his Collected Poems, " in Pre -
liminary Essays (New Yorki St. Martin's Press, 1957}, pp.~T50-
185. [A criticism of Thomas's p>oetry on the basis that it is
limited in subject-matter and is quasi-automatic]
Wanning, Andrews. "Criticism and Principles: Foetry of the Quarter,"
Southern Review , VI (Spring, 1941), 806-809.
LAn examination of "Twenty- four years" to illustrate the theory
that Thomas's poetry has an intelligible unity generated by
metaphor . ]
Werry, Richard R. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas," College English , XI
(February, 1950), 250-256. [A discussion of special char-
acteristlcs of Thomas's poetic themes and craftsmanship.]
Williams, Raymond. "Dylan Thomas's Play for Voices," Critical Quar -
terly , I (Spring, 1959), 18-26. [An analysis and appraisal
of Under Milk Wood . ]
Williams, William Carlos. "Dylan Thomas," Yale Literary Magazine ,
CXZII (No"vember, 1954), 21-22. [A oanmentary on Thomas as
poet and prose writer.]
Wimsatt, William Kurtz, Jr. "Verbal Style: Logical and Coiinter-
logical," FMLA , LXV (March, 1950), 5-20. [A discussion of a
level of meaning that is simultaneously related to but sepa-
rable from the stated and substantial meaning.]
- Zigerell, James. "Thomas' 'When All My Five and Country Senses See',"
Explicator , XIX (November, 1960), item 11.
Special Issues and Groups of Articles
on Dylan Thomas
Adam International Review , No. 238 (1953) j A Dylan Thomas Number
The Editor. "For Dylan," 11-7.
Stravinsky, Igor. "The Opera that might have been," 8,
John, Augustus. "The monogamous bohemlan," 9-10.
"Three first memoirs," 11-13.
Lindsay, Philip. 11.
Dalches, David. 12-15.
Jones, Glyn. 15,
"Une larme pour Adonals," 15-14.
Campbell, Roy. 13.
Spender, Stephen. 14.
Lehmann, John. 14.
Lltvlnoff, Emmanuel. 14.
Lutyens, Ellssabeth. 14.
Barker, George. "A Swansong at Laughame," 15-16.
Emmanuel, Pierre. "In Memoriam Dylan," 16.
Macleod, Runia Sheila. "The Dylan I knew," 17-23.
"Seventeen further memoirs," 24-39.
*** Johnson, Pamela Hansford. 24-25.
Luzi, Mario. 25.
Patmore, Derek. 25-26.
Davenport, John. 26-27.
His Publisher. 27-28.
Manning, Hugo. 29.
Dyment, Clifford. 29.
Griffiths, William. 30.
Pocock, Robert. 30-31.
Marriott, R. B. 31-32.
Ayrton, Michael. 32.
Rees, Leslie. 33.
Wishart, Ralph. 33-34.
MacDlarmid, Hugh. 35.
Burton, Phillip. 36-37.
Price, Cecil. 37-59.
WnilamB, Griffith. 59.
Astie, Georges- Albert. "Viotoire de la poe'sie," 40-42.
Deux Polanes de Thomas. 42-43.
Huddlestone, Linden. "To take to give is all," 44-47.
Thomas, Dylan. "Adventures in the Skin Trade," 48-65.
*Rousslllat, Suzanne. "His work and background," 66-72.
***Merwin, W[ 1111am] S. "The religious poet," 75-78.
Bottrall, Ronald. "The Sea," 78.
Etheridge, Ken. "Dylan Marlais Thomas," 79-80.
Portraits by Michael Ayrton and Alfred James.
Encounter , II (January, 1954)
"Dylan Thcmasi Memories and Appreciations," 9-17.
*»» I. Jones, Daniel. 9-10.
♦ II. Roethke, Theodore. 11.
*** III. MacNeice, Louis. 12-15.
*** IV. Adlx, Marjorie. 13-16.
« V. Barker, George. 16-17.
Dock Leaves , V (Spring, 1954): A Dylan Thomas Number
A Dylan Thomas Award
Lewis, Saunders. "Dylan Thomas," 8-9.
Davies, Aneirin Talfan. "The Golden Echo," 10-17.
Treece, Henry. "Chalk Sketch for a Genius," 18-25. [Identical
to sections i, ii, iii, and iv in the introduction to the
1956 edition of Treece 's Dylan Thomas » "Dog Among the
Jones, GO-yn. "Dylan Thomas and Welsh," 24-25.
Prys-Jones, A. G. "Death Shall Have No Dominion," 26-29.
Mathias, Roland. "A Merry Manshape (or Dylan Thomas at a
Knowles, Suzanne and Peter Preece. "Poems," 17, 29.
Yale Literary Magazine , CXTEI (November, 1954): A Dylan Thomas Number
♦Eberhart, Richard. "Some Memories of Dylan Thomas," 5-6.
Moore, Marianne. 6.
♦Smith, William Jay, "Life, Literature, and Dylan," 7.
Deutsch, Babette. "For Dylan Thomas on the Day of His Death," (
Villa, Jose Garcia. "Death and Dylan Thomas," 9.
Harris, Marguerite. "Four Poems for Dylan Thomas," 10-12.
**Scott, Winfield Townley. "Death, and Some Dominions of It,"
Friar, Kimon. "Dylan Thomas and the Poetic Drama," 15-19.
Cummings, E. E. 19.
«^»*Reid, Alastair. "A First Word," 20.
Williams, William Carlos. "Dylan Thomas," 21-22.
Gardner, Isabella. "When a Warlock Dies," 22.
Tusiani, Joseph. "For Dylan Thomas on the Day of His Death"
(Translated from the Italian by Francis Winwar) , 23-25.
Rexroth, Kenneth. "Lament for Dylan Thomas," 26-27.
Fowlie; W^nace. "On the Death of Dylan Thomas," 28-29.
♦♦Gregory, Horace. "Romantic Heritage in the Writings of
Dylan Thomas," 30-34.
Poetry , LXXXVII (November, 1955), 63-129 j A Dylan Thomas Number
Sitwell, Edith. "Elegy for Dylan Thomas," 63-67.
Thomas, Dylan. "Five Early Poems," 84-90.
"Out of a War of Wits," 84-85.
"This is Remembered," 85-86.
"Shiloh's Seed," 87-89.
"Before We Mothemaked Fall," 89-90.
"The Almanac of Time," 90.
Photograph of Dylan Thomas, 91.
Reproductions of drafts for "Poem on His Birthday," 92-99.
**'Shapiro, Karl. "Dylan Thomas," 100-110. [Appears not only in
Tedlock and in Casebook , but also, in slightly altered phras-
ing, in Shapiro's In Defense of Ignorance (New York:
Random House, 1960), pp. 171-186.]
♦Campbell, Roy. "Memories of Dylan Thomas at the B.B.C.,"
Lougee, David. "The Worlds of Dylan Thomas," 114-115.
[A review of Quite Early One Morning and of Adventures
in the Skin Trade and other Stories .]
Tyler, iParker. "Then Was % Neophyte a Scriptist," 116-118.
[A review of The Doctor and the Devils .]
Ghiaelin, Brewsterl "Critical Work in Progress," 118-119.
[A review of Elder Olson's The Poetry of Dylan Thomas .]
Baro, Gene. "The Orator of Llareggub, " 119-122 .
[A review of Under Mlk Wood . ]
Thelma Louise Bau^an Murdy was born on September 28, IS 35,
in Dover, New Hampshire. In June, 1953, she was graduated from
Gainesville High School, Gainesville, Florida. She did her under-
graduate work at the University of Florida, spent the summer of 1955
at Harvard University, and received the degree of Bachelor of Arts
in political science and English at the University of Florida in
January, 1957. She was employed as a full-time statistical clerk
for a research project in the Agricultural Economics Department of
the University of Florida the second semester of 1S57, and spent the
summer in independent travel in Europe. In August, 1958, she received
the degree of Master of Arts in English from the University of North
Carolina and was married to William George Murdy, Jr. She and her
husband continued their respective graduate studies at the University
of Florida, where during the fall semester, 1960, she taught freshman
composition as a graduate assistant. From 1961 to 1962 she lived in
Gulfport, Mississippi, while her husband did his internship in clinical
psychology at the Veterans Administration Hospital. After her husband
received his doctoral degree in February, 1962, she moved to Talla-
hassee, Florida, where he is a psychologist for the Leon County Mental
Health Clinic. Until the present time she has pursued her studies
toward the doctoral degree in English.
Louise Baughan Murdy is a member of Chi Omega Social Sorority,
the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, the Modern Language
Association of America, Pi Sigma Alpha, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Beta
Kappa. She was awarded a Harvard University Scholarship (summer,
1955), a University of Florida fellowship (summers 1959 and I960),
and a Southern Fellowships Fund grant (academic years 1957-1958,
1958-1959, and 1959-1960).
This dissertation was prepared under the direction of the
chairman of the candidate's supervisory committee and has been
approved by all members of that committee. It was submitted to
the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate
Council, and was approved as partial fulfillment of the require-
ments for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
June 11, 1962
Dean, College of Arts and/Sc^l^nces
Dean, Graduate School
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08553 6786